The Public Accounts Committee, chaired by senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Murli Manohar Joshi, on Wednesday described Union Communications Minister Kapil Sibal's recent comments on the CAG report on 2G spectrum allocation as “improper” and “inappropriate.”
The committee's comments came after BJP leader Arun Jaitley rubbished Mr. Sibal's remarks within a few hours of his press conference here. Privately, BJP leaders were talking about “breach of privilege,” though it was not stated officially that the party would press for this.
At its meeting here on Wednesday, the PAC empowered its Chairman to take up the issue with the Lok Sabha Speaker and the President of India, some other members of the powerful parliamentary committee said later. They indicated that Congress MPs on the committee were “defensive” when asked why the Minister, and even the Congress, had tried to run down the work of the CAG. They reportedly said media reports on the Minister's comments were not quite accurate, as what he had said was more nuanced and he had talked about the CAG's “erroneous calculations.”
The PAC members reckoned that Mr. Sibal's remarks “lowered the prestige” of the CAG as well as the PAC that was seized of the matter. “If the Minister had something to say, the appropriate forum was the PAC,” Mr. Joshi said.
Mr. Joshi said the committee had asked him “to take steps” so that “such incidents do not occur in the future.” However, he refused to detail what these steps would be. Asked whether these could include asking Mr. Sibal to appear before the PAC, he responded: “There is no such proposal before me.”
Asked whether the CAG's estimate of Rs.1,76,000-crore loss of revenue to the government by the mishandling of spectrum allocation was correct, Mr. Joshi said the CAG itself had given three separate calculations and talked about a range of losses that might have occurred. It did not fix the estimated revenue loss at Rs.1,76,000 crore. At a press conference here, he said: “The sense of the committee” was that Mr. Sibal's remarks were “improper.