JPC chief pokes members on conflict of interest
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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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