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
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.