Joshi writes to Speaker on Sibal`s attack on CAG

PAC Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar requesting her to take "prompt" and "effective" steps to stop "such constitutional impropriety" by ministers.

New Delhi: Strong objecting to Telecom
Minister Kapil Sibal`s attack on CAG report, PAC Chairman
Murli Manohar Joshi has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira
Kumar requesting her to take "prompt" and "effective" steps to
stop "such constitutional impropriety" by ministers.

Joshi questioned whether it was appropriate for a
minister, particularly the one holding the charge of the
ministry concerned, to cast aspersions on CAG report after it
has been tabled in the House.

In the letter, the chief of Parliament`s Public Accounts
Committee questioned whether Sibal had expressed "such views
of far-reaching implications and consequences with the
knowledge and permission" of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"As Speaker of the Lok Sabha, you are the only
authority to whom the Committee (PAC) can approach for seeking
clarification from the minister on the above issues and advise
the Committee," Joshi wrote in the two-page letter dated
January 19 copies of which were distributed to the media.

Sibal had rubbished the findings of the CAG in 2G
spectrum allocation that the loss to the exchequer was to the
tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore and said the calculations were

Joshi has also enclosed clippings of newsreports on
Sibal`s press conference and the CD of an interview given by
the Telecom Minister to a TV channel.

"The statement (by Sibal) raises several issues
regarding parliamentary propriety and preserving and
respecting the independence of the CAG - an institution
established by the Constitution - and the PAC, a Committee
elected by the Parliament...," he said.

He said the three issues needed to be addressed in the
light of Sibal`s statement.

"I, therefore, beseech you to take prompt steps to
prevent the recurrence of such constitutional impropriety on
the part of the ministers. I am afraid if a situation of
confrontation between ministers and other constitutional
authorities and the Parliamentary Committees develops, then
the days of healthy and vibrant democracy are numbered,"
Joshi`s letter said.

"Already a sense of cynicism is growing and if it has to
be replaced by a sense of hope and confidence, we have to take
effective measures," it said.

Speaking to reporters, Joshi said while a minister has a
right to speak, "the issue is what and when to speak...the
Supreme Court observation is clear that there should be a
context to it...the dignity (maryada) should be followed."

He said Sibal`s statement has raised questions on
impropriety and dignity of PAC and CAG. "If CAG is wrong then
all government expenditure should be cleared without audit,"
he said. In the letter, the PAC Chairman also wanted to know
whether it was necessary for the CAG to accept whatever the
ministry says or the CAG is expected to give his considered
observations based on the material shown to him.

Asked why he named the Prime Minister in his letter,
Joshi said it was necessary to know whether it was the stand
of the government.

He said the Committee was awaiting the reply of the
Speaker and it was upto her to decide how she proceeds on the
matter. "After her reply, we will see how to go ahead," he

The BJP veteran said while the Department of
Telecommunications has "lost the opportunity" to explain its
stand before the CAG, it could still do so before the
Parliamentary panel.

The BJP leader had, after the last meeting of PAC on
January 12, said "The sense of the committee was that Sibal`s
remarks were improper, against propriety and an attack on the
dignity of PAC and CAG".

The Telecom Minister had termed as "utterly erroneous and
without any basis" the estimated presumptive loss arrived at
by the CAG on account of allocation of 2G spectrum to telecom