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JPC chief pokes members on conflict of interest

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 00:53

New Delhi: Amid questions over inclusion of
BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh in the JPC that
is probing 2G scam, its chief P C Chacko has asked all members
of the committee to report to him in case they have any
interest involved in the matters to be discussed by the panel.

Chacko has written to the members of JPC, saying if
anyone had any interest related to the subject matter of
discussion of the Committee, he or she should recuse or remain
absent from the deliberations, sources said.
The letter assumes significance as questions have been
raised over presence of Sinha and Singh in the 30-member
Committee, which is tasked to look into telecom policy from
1998 till 2008.

As Finance Minister during the NDA rule, Sinha headed
GoM which went into the issue of fixed-service providers being
allowed limited mobility. Singh was a member of the group.
Singh later headed GoM on Unified Access Service Licence
in his capacity as Finance Minister and Sinha was a member.

Some members have pointed out that the presence of Sinha
and Singh in discussions on the telecom policy during that
period would amount to a conflict of interest as they were
involved in that.

In the letter, Chacko has asked the members to inform
him whether or not they have any interest in any issue that
would be taken up by the Committee, the sources said.

It is expected that if Sinha and Singh do not recuse
themselves or abstain from deliberations, some members may
raise questions over their presence at the first meeting of
JPC on March 24 itself, the sources said.

Congress, while saying nothing officially, has already
indicated that it will raise objections and put the clash of
interest on record at the first meeting of the JPC.

It has been questioned by the Congress as to how the two
would be able to sit on judgement on the decisions that may
have been taken by the GoMs of which they were a part.

BJP has made it clear that it was unlikely to ask Singh
and Sinha to quit the JPC, arguing that they had no "personal"
conflict of interest on telecom related issues.

A senior BJP leader said the practice of "recusing"
oneself from a committee like the JPC as this was a judicial
practice and not a political one.

"In a body like the JPC, the members are selected on the
basis of their party affiliation and so their stand on issues
is not personal but that of the party that they represent," a
senior BJP leader had said.

Moreover, since the 2003 Spectrum policy of first
come-first serve over auction was taken by the entire NDA
Cabinet, going by the Congress argument all BJP members
should recuse themselves, says BJP.

"By this logic, DMK (Former Telecom Minister A Raja`s
party) should not be a part of the JPC," a BJP leader said.


First Published: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 00:53

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