Differences force disruption of PAC meet



New Delhi: Parliament's Public Accounts Committee on Monday failed to transact business as its meeting was disrupted following differences between Congress and non-UPA members over presence of Comptroller and Auditor General when 2G spectrum issue was being discussed.

Non-UPA members also demanded summoning of R P Singh, lead auditor of the 2G spectrum allocation, to ask him why he differed with Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai on the quantum of loss, a move opposed by Congress members.

Sources said members of BJP and other opposition parties insisted that Singh should be summoned as he had said the loss in 2G spectrum allocation was much less than Rs 1.76 Lakh crore, a figure arrived at by the CAG officially.

Opposition members in the PAC, headed by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, noted that Singh had been asked by the Committee as to why he differed with the CAG estimate.

"Singh has said in his (written) reply that he did not talk to the media. But he has been quoted by a magazine. Moreover, we want to call him and seek his clarifications on how he differs with his own earlier presentation before PAC about the three methods of calculating the presumptive loss in 2G allocation," said an opposition party member of PAC.

Congress members, including Sanjay Nirupam, wanted Rai to be kept away from the meeting whenever R P Singh makes his presentation as the latter had contested the official loss figures of the CAG.

At one point, Rai offered to recuse himself.

The PAC chief, however, turned it down, saying the CAG is an "adjunct" of the Committee and will under no circumstances be kept out of any sitting of the body.

Amid differences, the meeting was adjourned abruptly after an hour. The meeting scheduled for tomorrow was also postponed reportedly in view of 'Chhath' puja.

R P Singh had come to attend the meeting and make his presentation today but was not called in.

In the midst of high drama, Rai offered to recuse himself if the Chairperson so desired. Joshi ruled this out, saying the CAG is never summoned or asked to recuse from a PAC meeting.

Sources said members of BJP and its allies in the PAC felt R P Singh, as a witness, has no locus standi to decide who should be present or not present during his presentation.

"Singh has retired now. So he should have nothing to fear as far as CAG is concerned," a member observed.

With no consensus in sight, Joshi adjourned the meeting on the ground that the legal and Constitutional aspects related to powers of the CAG.

The BJP maintains that the authority of CAG, "which is a constitutional body having powers equal to a Supreme Court judge", cannot be "undermined" by the Congress.

Ironically, it is the Congress which first demanded that Singh should be summoned, only to realise later that this would again rake up the 2-G controversy in PAC.

The probe into 2G spectrum allocation scam had come to an end in the new PAC and a JPC has been constituted to look into the matter, but Nirupam dragged the new body again into the issue. In a letter to the PAC Chairperson, he demanded that Singh should be summoned as he differs with the CAG on the quantum of loss.

This gave an opportunity to BJP, BJD, SAD, JD(U) and AIADMK to demand that not only R P Singh but others like union Minister Kapil Sibal, CBI director and TRAI, should also be summoned as they have arrived at loss figures which are at variance with that of the CAG.

Some Congress members in the PAC were heard after today's meeting saying that Nirupam had caused an unnecessary hassle by writing this letter.

PTI