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Original terms of JPC changed at BJP`s instance

BJP on Thursday claimed that the govt attempted to put a clause in the terms of reference of the JPC on 2G Spectrum allocation in a bid to keep former Telecom Minister A Raja out of the panel`s purview.

Updated: Feb 24, 2011, 20:52 PM IST

New Delhi: BJP on Thursday claimed that the
government attempted to put a clause in the terms of reference
of the JPC on 2G Spectrum allocation in a bid to keep former
Telecom Minister A Raja out of the panel`s purview.

BJP sources, preferring anonymity, said the draft of
the terms of reference of the JPC that was sent to the
senior opposition leaders sought to provide for scrutiny of
decisions taken by actions "by successive governments
consequent to decisions by the union cabinet..."

The relevant clause read, "To examine policy
prescriptions and their interpretation thereafter by
successive governments consequent to decisions by the union
cabinet in the allocation and pricing of telecom licenses and
spectrum from 1998 to 2009."

The phrase "consequent to decisions by the union
cabinet" in the clause would have meant Raja would not be
probed as the 2G Spectrum allocation issue never came up in
the cabinet headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"Only the role of Arun Shourie, who was Telecom
Minister during the NDA regime, would have been probed as the
then cabinet had taken a decision on it", a BJP leader said.

When the BJP top brass noticed this "sleight of hand"
by the government, they got in touch with Telecom Minister
Kapil Sibal and others and recorded their objection.

Sources said a senior minister then changed the
wording and informed BJP about it.

The amended clause read "to examine policy
prescriptions and their interpretation thereafter by
successive governments, including decisions by the union
cabinet and the consequences thereof, in the allocation and
pricing of telecom licenses and spectrum from 1998 to 2009."

The amended version was acceptable to the BJP as it
includes cabinet decisions as well as those taken outside it.
This version was presented in the Lok Sabha and passed
unanimously.

During the run-up to the passage of the Civil
Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill, BJP had expressed
reservations about a clause where use of the word "and"
instead of "or" would have benefited nuclear suppliers by
putting them above all liability for the goods supplied by
them.

After the BJP raised a hue and cry, the clause was
suitably amended before being passed in Parliament.

PTI