CAG's report of presumed loss in spectrum allocation created a storm in Parliament
Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) of India Vinod Rai will appear before Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday in connection with the 2G telecom controversy.
The PAC has been examining the CAG's report of a presumed loss of Rs.1.76-lakh crore in the allocation of the 2 G spectrum, which created a storm in Parliament.
The Opposition, including the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left parties, had been demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the issue in depth. Describing it as the “biggest scam in Independent India,'' the Opposition insisted that only a JPC probe could unearth the entire truth.
The tug of war between the government and the Opposition led to the stalling of almost the entire winter session of Parliament and the resignation of Telecom Minister A. Raja. The government continued to stoutly oppose a JPC probe on the ground that it had already initiated “multi-faceted” action against those involved. The setting up of a JPC would “only delay the inquiry and politicise the matter.''
It, however, agreed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would appear before the PAC. Dr. Singh made the offer on the concluding day of the 83rd plenary session of the Congress party here on Monday. Accusing the BJP of indulging in “false'' propaganda that the government was opposed to the JC as it did not want him to be questioned by it, Dr. Singh said he intended to write to the Chairman of the PAC that he was ready to appear before it if it wanted.
Public's view sought
The PAC, headed by BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi, took the decision to ask the CAG to appear before it at its last meeting earlier this month.
It has already obtained some information from the Department of Telecommunications, the Finance Ministry, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and experts in the telecom sector through oral depositions and written submissions.
The Parliamentary Committee, which is examining the issue of 2G and 3G spectrum as part of an overall review of recent developments since June, has so far been briefed by the former TRAI chairpersons, Nripendra Mishra and Pradip Baijal, and the former Telecom Secretary, Siddharth Behura, among others.
Mr. Behura is understood to have told the panel that all decisions were taken by Mr. Raja, and he just carried out orders. He was the Telecom Secretary when the spectrum allocation was made.
The PAC has also sought views from the general public. “Taking into consideration the importance of the subject and the nationwide interest evinced in it, the Committee has decided to invite memoranda containing views/suggestions from various individuals, experts, associations, institutions, organisations interested in the subject matter,'' said a notification issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.