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Updated: November 24, 2012 15:18 IST
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Attack on CAG riddled with full-spectrum contradictions

Shalini Singh
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Former Director General, CAG, R.P. Singh.
PTI
Former Director General, CAG, R.P. Singh.

On a day that former Director General, CAG, R P Singh made what the Congress Party terms “explosive disclosures” which should lead to a “serious review”, other facts raise questions about not only the timing of Mr. Singh’s expose, but also about the rigour of the Rs. 2,645 crore loss which has become the basis of the Congress attack on Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), Vinod Rai.

According to documents with The Hindu, Mr. Singh is contradicting not just most public statements that he has ever made but also documents that he himself has signed which support rather than oppose the CAG’s loss figures.

Presumptive loss

His minimalist figure of a Rs 2,645 crore loss is the mainstay of the Congress attack, prompting even Congress President, Sonia Gandhi to break her silence for the first time since the CAG’s 2G report was tabled in Parliament in November 2010, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and Law Minister, Ashwini Kumar joining the Congress call for a probe into the working of the CAG.

The documents show that Mr Singh is perfectly willing to ignore TRAI’s recommendations when citing a lower loss figure of Rs. 2,645 crore, while simultaneously citing the same TRAI recommendations to rubbish the Rs. 1.76 lakh crore loss estimate.

In Section 9.1.3 of a 15-page “secret and confidential” note dated May 31, 2010, under the head “Undue haste in processing applications for new UASL”, Mr Singh throws up the Rs 2,645 crore loss figure based on indexation of the 2001 price of Rs 1,658.57 crore for pan-India spectrum to the Cost Inflation Index in 2007-8, wrongly stating that “the 2001 bid prices was discovered from a nascent market and did not reflect the true value of licence”. In truth, the 2001 rate was discovered through a fiercely competitive bid which not only reflected the true value in 2001 but was in fact used as a benchmark for many years after that.

Additionally, the market indexation is done by mentioning but simultaneously rejecting TRAI’s recommendations: “TRAI did not recommend revision of entry fee”. In any event, this would, just like the other 4 loss estimates by the CAG which Mr Singh now opposes, qualify as nothing other than “presumptive” loss. But in the cover note of the same document, Mr Singh states a loss of Rs. 1.02 lakh crore based on the 3G spectrum price, but rejects it on the basis that, “However, charging for 2G spectrum for rollout was never recommended by TRAI or the Government has never contemplated any charges for the spectrum other than entry fee”.

Mr Singh cherry picks from the TRAI’s recommendations, depending on what he needs to prove, an impropriety that the TRAI had scolded the DoT for doing in 2008. While indexing to Rs. 2,645 crore he ignores the TRAI but to reject the Rs.1.02 lakh crore loss estimate, he quotes the TRAI. Mr Singh’s lack of rigor is also exhibited by the fact that the government did, in fact, contemplate charges beyond entry fee. These are called spectrum usage charges. And this has been the government’s main argument for keeping entry fee low and detailed in Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s letter to the PM dated January 15, 2008.

Mr Singh subjugates the government’s role vis-à-vis the TRAI recommendations to the same doublespeak. While justifying his loss estimate of Rs. 2,645 crore, he argues that the government should have overruled the TRAI recommendations to protect the country’s financial interest, but in refusing to admit the Rs. 1.02 lakh crore loss, he is happy to accept that the government had never contemplated any charge for spectrum other than the entry fee.

3G rates OK, not OK

Mr Singh has argued on several television channels that Rs. 37,000 crore (he really means Rs 36,279 crore) which is the loss estimate for spectrum awarded beyond the contracted amount can be collected. This is taken from his draft report of September 2010 and by his admission, is based on a DoT report of May 2009 and TRAI’s May 2010 Recommendations linking the charge to 3G auction price. Ironically, the calculation of Rs.1,76,645 (Rs.1.76) lakh crore also comes from the same TRAI May 2010 report. This has 3 elements: a loss of Rs.1,02,498 crore on account of 122 licenses, a loss of Rs. 37,154 crore on account of dual technology and a loss of Rs. 36,993 crore from loss on spectrum beyond contracted amount. Mr Singh has supported a Rs 37,000 crore loss estimate which in exacting terms became the Rs. 36,993 crore in the final report. Mr Singh is happy to oppose the 3G calculation for licences given illegally by Mr Raja in the UPA regime but is willing to defend the 3G price linkage for excess spectrum which began in the NDA regime.

In summary, the two loss figures of Rs. 2,645 crore for 122 licenses and Rs. 37,000 crore for spectrum beyond contracted amount that Mr Singh has admitted to, are based on completely different criteria, while the latter is based entirely on the 3G pricing which he himself opposes in part for losses caused by the 122 illegal licences given by Mr Raja.

False claim

Mr Singh’s allegation that no guidelines were issued for him to audit the 2G scam is seen by audit experts a surprising since any DG level officer knows exactly what guidelines to follow as well as the rigour enshrined in such audits, which take place across the country and throughout the year. Reports are prepared based on auditing standards and standard practices contained in CAG manuals. These are standard documents which are used as guidelines. No specific guidelines need to be issued for every audit. Only material findings find place in the CAG report.

Moreover, as a DG, if he believed that some additional guidelines were needed, he had every right to bring the audit to a halt, but he did no such thing. Instead he used his own indexation figure and judgment to calculate the loss figures.

No dissent

A review of the documents leading up to the audit, including several signed by Mr Singh himself, fail to reveal even the slightest hint of objection to the Rs. 1.76 lakh crore loss estimate. His report, filed to Ms. Rekha Gupta, DEI-RC on September 9, 2010, duly signed in not one but two places, shows that he details all four sets of losses presented in the final CAG report without objection. These include the loss estimate based on the S Tel offer, on Swan’s transaction with Etisalat, Unitech’s M&A with Telenor, as well as the 3G auctions.

Singh vs SC

On Friday, however, Mr Singh receded on all three counts. He claimed that the S Tel offer was invalid since it was withdrawn in Delhi High Court. Wrong. The S Tel offer was very much valid when the scam took place in 2008. Further, it was never withdrawn from the High Court. It was only in the Supreme Court in April 2010, when S Tel withdrew its case – and not the offer – that the matter was closed. Even then, the Supreme Court upheld the Delhi High Court finding which concluded that ex-Telecom Minister A Raja had illegally and arbitrarily advanced the cutoff date.

Mr Singh now claims that the Unitech and Swan transactions cannot be taken as losses because they were mere “equity infusion under the agreements of the companies”. While submitting his draft report in September 2010, he made no mention of this argument. Moreover, Mr Raja, his lawyers along with the lawyers of Unitech and Swan insisted on the same argument in the Courts. This was rejected both by the CBI Special Court dealing with the 2G scam and the Supreme Court in its judgment of February 2, 2012, which cancelled the 122 licenses. The Supreme Court held, contrary to Mr Singh’s claim, that the owners of these companies had “offloaded equity” for large profits.

In effect, the CAG was right in November 2010 and the finding was upheld by none other than the Supreme Court, contrary to Mr Singh’s sudden counter claims.

Spin on 3G comparison

After first having rejected the 3G pricing by suggesting charging for 2G spectrum rollout was never recommended by TRAI, Mr Singh went silent while submitting his report in September 2010, until on Friday, when he decided to wax eloquent on the technical differences between 2G and 3G spectrum. He told a TV channel, “2G is for voice telephony and it is a different technology. Its application is different. 3G, on the other hand, is used for mass transfer of data and image transfer. The nature of utilization and the service is different. They don’t even have identical usage.”

Meanwhile, the Congress, which was objecting to the CAG entering into policy prescription, appears perfectly willing to back an auditor-turned-telecom specialist. Sadly, Mr Singh is wrong on all counts and in fact he stands contradicted by none other than the UPA’s own Union Ministers, who while addressing the press conference on the recent 2G auctions, stated that the 3G spectrum was being used for voice. In reality, they are based on the same GSM technology, not different, as Mr Singh claims. The consumers are the same and in most cases, the handsets are same, though 3G does arguably have a higher capacity to carry data.

TRAI the specialist

What Mr Singh forgets to note while citing TRAI selectively to oppose the equation of 2G with the 2010 3G auction prices is that the same TRAI, on May 11, 2011, in a statutory recommendation titled ‘Spectrum Management and Licensing Framework’, noted in Table No. 3.4, from pages 187 to 193, that “the MHz by MHz and circle-wise comparison of 2G spectrum with 3G in fact argued the case for its parity while taking into consideration spectral efficiency, traffic, and quality of service”. The TRAI, a specialist regulator set up under an Act of Parliament concluded in Section 3.82 that, “The authority therefore recommends that 3G prices be adopted as the current price of spectrum in the 1800 MHz (2G) band.”

This calculation and assertion came mid-way through the 3G auction. In September, Mr. Singh himself took this exact same rationale and quoted the 3G parity in detail in his letter of September 28, 2010. In Section 5.3 of his “Performance Audit Report”, he liberally quoted the TRAI’s May 2010 recommendations and concluded “if price is calculated at 3G rates which can also be taken as one of the indicators of assessing the value of 2G spectrum allocated to UAS licenses in 2008, the value works out to Rs. 1,11,511 crore against the Rs. 9,013 crore realized by DoT.”

He further used the same 3G parameter to calculate the loss for dual technology licenses all of which added up to the final report of November 2011, and the figure of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore. Ironically, Mr. Singh doesn’t have a single line or paper to show by way of his disagreement or dissent to the final CAG report. On the contrary, he is a signatory of multiple letters including those of May 31, 2010, September 28, 2010, and is a co-signatory on page 59 of the final CAG report of November 8, 2011.

It is also learnt that Mr Singh was asked to do a transaction audit but he wanted to do a performance audit and he was allowed to do so. Moreover the findings were reviewed by 5 officers of his seniority, who agreed with the findings and yet Mr Singh did not protest. It was Mr Singh who made the presentation to the PAC and at the press conference where he never spoke a word against the report, its process, robustness or integrity.

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Excellent article, Shalini. Unscrupulous white collar bureaucrats dance to the tunes of the people in power and will stoop to any level to appease them. They are not ashamed of contradicting their own statements since they are so unprincipled.

from:  Krish
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 00:52 IST

@ Naveen Jain: Get your facts right. The much talked about 70% telecom
density, high penetration, low prices etc are all due to earlier
spectrum allocations. None of the beneficiaries of the 2008 spectrum
allocations even bothered to roll out telecom services to the public.
They just happily sold it to foreign companies. In fact the TRAI
recommended cancellations of the spectrum allocations for many
companies as they failed to comply to their roll out obligations. So
you mean to say that telecom density increased without these companies
even offering their services. All this melodramatic talks about the
poor getting affordable telecom services thanks to the 2008 auctions
is based on a false propaganda advanced by A.Raja and the present
government which has been rejected by none other than the Supreme
Court of India. So please don't be conveniently blind to the hard
truth whatever may be your political inclinations. After all it's your
tax money as well that is at stake.

from:  Shiv Ganesh S
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 00:00 IST

Elsewhere in the media, I read that Manish Tewari challenged the CAG to a public debate! I
wish the CAG would take this challenge up and demolish the likes of Tewari. This would also
act as an excellent precedent to public debates on all matters of national interest - lokpal,
FDI, etc! The senior most of cabinet ministers and opposition parties, and some neutral folks
including domain experts should be part of such debates!

from:  Suresh Kumar Bopparaju
Posted on: Nov 25, 2012 at 22:10 IST

Congress has mustered the art of confusing the issues by their irresponsible statements and arguments. By what yardsticks, loss of 35000 crore less serious than 1.76 crore ? Does this prove No Loss theory and therefore no scam? I fail to understand what is there for the congress to rejoice? The changed figures, even if it is true, does not make this congress Government less corrupt. I sincerely wish Manish will dare to come out with some comments on land deals of Vadra & Gandhi family and, black money of his party, instead of defaming CAG and constitutional institutions. Mr. R.P. Singh is stupid, to fall in this political trap and sing to the tune of congress. He has got him selves in thick trouble by making unsubstantiated and reckless statements on sensitive issue.

from:  Umesh Chandra
Posted on: Nov 25, 2012 at 19:42 IST

Ms Shalini Singh ,kindly tell us the actual loss to the government
when presumptive loss of 1.76 lac crore is found to be true as u
seemed to be convinced . Secondly can presumptive loss be recovered by
the government ? Why do u think at any stage CAG never mentioned the
actual loss ? Was there no actual loss at all ? Could this presumptive
loss could have been much higher if the stock markets were at 40000
levels ? What could be a presumptive loss after 10 years stock market
is at 50000 level ?

We are all wasting our times ,look at the penetration levels nearing
70 % and such a low call tariffs that every person rich and poor can
communicate and be connected . Common sense ,higher input cost means
higher call tariffs .Finally even your newspaper does not does not
survive on thin air ,leave aside water which is pretty expensive now
days .is there any harm if the aam admi , aurat + bachhas are well
connected through inexpensive mobile telephony . Thanks

from:  Naveen Jain
Posted on: Nov 25, 2012 at 01:41 IST

The article by Shalini Singh exposes point by point the contrdictions that RP Singh is.! Now He opposes his own audit report either because he was a mere signatory holding the position of Director General and heading the 2G spectrum audit report or is under duress. He had also exhibited his poor understanding of the definition of what is 2G, 3G and the basis of their pricing. It is possible that the entire audit and report preparation and other correspondences pertaining to the audit, during his tenure, could have been done by officers junior to him and RP Singh might have signed at the dotted line as he lacks sufficient knowledge to either agree or disagree with the contents. After retirement he seem to have been suddenly woke-up from his sleep and told to contradict his own earlier reports, statements and assessments. Possibly as the analysis in the article points out, he is habituated to call 'the wrong as right and criticise the right as wrong' due to misunderstanding.

from:  sundaram
Posted on: Nov 25, 2012 at 00:34 IST

RP Singh's timing can not be taken as an excuse to reject his
arguments. It is strange that his observations found no mention in
the publication earlier but this article countering his claims did.
The media has played a very biased role in this matter by only
highlighting and at times cheering attacks on the govt in this
matter.
The CAG is in the dock for the exorbitant figures it quoted (among
others). Presumptive Loss is incalculable.
In case of a maiden over has the team lost 36 runs! This is silly
accounting and unheard of.
The Hindu is expected to report without favor and with balance. In
the 2G case (and certain others like the Lokpal) it has taken upon
itself to be rabidly anti govt (which is fine) but has consistently
refused to even put similar questions of logic to the other sides.
Does the writer of this article agree with 1.76 Lakh crore? If not,
then where is the write up giving a point by point rebuttal of CAG's
(dare I say very silly) observations.

from:  Ankur Bhardwaj
Posted on: Nov 25, 2012 at 00:00 IST

It is really funny that a thief trying to punish a person who merely
estimating the amount of money stolen. Instead CAG should be rewarded
for identifying this huge loss. There is truth in the figure 1 lakh 70
thousand crore.

from:  sada
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 23:20 IST

I am really extremely saddened by all this fiasco. The government is
consistently trying to destroy an independent constitutional authority
and ridicule and cast aspersions on an honest bureaucrat. It is indeed
a sad day for Indian democracy. That the government is trying to blunt
the CAG's edge by using an ex auditor with vested interests is even
more saddening. It proves that the government today is ready to travel
to any length just to save it's face, which is pathetic and
disgusting. Gone are those days when both the opposition and the
government engaged in a spirited discussion for the welfare of the
nation and respected all constitutional authorities. I am not saying
that the BJP is all clean and respects the autonomy of constitutional
authorities but when it comes to destroying the institutions of
democracy the Congress is undoubtedly the leader a title which it owes
to Indira Gandhi and her followers.

from:  Shiv Ganesh S
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 22:04 IST

The trouble with analyses is that it is easily slanted to suit the views of the writer or his/her sponsors. So, just as much we may criticize RP Singh, we will also be able to punch many holes in The Hindu's own flawed (yes, in many palces) analyses. This is how debates begin and end, and one wonders who is the wiser. In summary, the best thing to do is to ask, if one get over "hurt" national pride, someone like a CAP Gemini or a Gartner to look into this for a period of 30 days (and it will not take longer) and reply.

from:  Venkat Narayan
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 21:47 IST

1)During those days when singh was evaluating the loss interacting with TRAI/CAG etc& at the time/day of signing the report he would 've never dreamt that this presumptive loss figure was going to change the powers &going to be a very serious political issue.
2)None can stop him to make a dissent at the bottom of the report had he truly felt at that time the presumtive loss was exaggerated etc.
3)Also he didn't a make this "new found charge" during the sittings with PAC/JPC.
This clearly show that he was for"sale" & no honest intentions
/integrity expected of his post he held.He is a present day indian politician at heart.

from:  Shankari.R
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 20:39 IST

Kudos to Shalini Singh for this great article!!

from:  Harsh Kumar
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 20:09 IST

Many readers (like me)may not have the required technical expertise to
fully grasp this painstaking analysis by Shalini Singh. But, surely
most of them would have noted that this write-up shows the latest
attack on the CAG as a product on behalf of an establishment ever
eager to find new alliances to launch organised and unrestrained
denigration of CAG's office that stubbornly resisted to subscribe,
within its professional wisdom and judgement, to the zero or
negligible loss theory. The country, with its ever increasing
awareness, sees the government as being largely on the wrong side. It
will also be incorrect to presume that the public memory is short. One
would like to recall that Mr.Pranab Mukaherjee suggested in one of his
Ministry's notes to the PMO, that if the then Finance Ministry had
stuck to its original stand of auction route in 2G allocation, the
loss could have been avoided. What was the amount of loss that
exercised the mind of Mr. Pranab, at that point of time?

from:  Shekar
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 18:19 IST

Govt officials will not change or allow the public the transparency
wanted. You are exploiting the common people in nuclear energy, Spectrum
allocation, river water sharing, etc and the politicians in power buy
everyone by threats or inducements.

from:  chandrasekaran
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 18:15 IST

The article is clear, OK, but not necessarily unbiased. Having made the maximum noise against the Govt earlier, THE HINDU cannot be expected to become objective now. You cannot just rubbish or suspect or dismiss a serious charge made by a senior official, who has actually signed the report, just because of its timing and he had lost the earlier opportunities to do so. There can be good reasons for it and he should be given a chance to explain. Calling him names and attributing motives are unfair. And is it uncommon or unbelievable that reports are sometimes made and signed under pressure from the bosses, in all the fields - Govt., politics, corporate world, etc? And, are we to blindly accept that BJP and its MMJ are angels and only Congress is a party of crooks?

from:  Krish
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 17:54 IST

Excellent analysis and presentation of article. I am amused by the fact that the gentleman in the article is defending the indefensible.

I hope there is a fair reason for his beliefs.

from:  Bhavesh
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 15:53 IST

Is it possible that The Supreme Court takes up this matter and examines
if Mr Singh can be tried for CONTEMPT OF COURT, as he has also cast
aspersions and indirectly questioned the wisdom of the Honorable Supreme
Court on its Judgments given with regard to the Scam.? Ms SHALINI SINGH
has exposed Mr RP Singh through and through, and it may not be asking
her too much to suggest what action can be taken against such a deceitful coward. It may be worth to go through his audit reports in his
formative days to determine how corrupt he had been.

from:  viswanatha
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 15:23 IST

Is it possible that The Supreme Court takes up this matter and examines
if Mr Singh can be tried for CONTEMPT OF COURT, as he has also cast aspersions and indirectly questioned the wisdom of the Honorable Supreme
Court on its Judgments given with regard to the Scam.?

from:  viswanatha
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 15:17 IST

I did see the discussion of R P Singh with his ex superior and spokesperson from congress and BJP yesterday night in a english news channel. The way R P Singh was answering was full of contradictions and
he went to the extent of denying what he had said the previous day abt the high figures of 1.76lac crores. It is nothing but a reflection of the great Congress party and its faithful corrupt allies trying to create a confusion so that they can escape from the present FDI discussion in Parliament. If the country has to survive and move forward towards corruption free regime, Congress and it allies shud be out of power at least for the next 10years. Let some honest and corrupt free party rule the country and cleanse the gutter.

from:  K.GOPU
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 15:06 IST

if congress party and the government are accepting the loss of Rs.
2465 crores due to faulty bidding policy, then let them say so to
the court.
why confuse everyone by the difference of figures and help the
accused to avoid the punishment for the crime committed on the
nation

from:  SAROJ KUMAR MUKHERJEE
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 14:44 IST

I will be thankful for more enlightened people clarifying the
following to me. If the companies had paid 1.76 lakh crores for the
2G, they would have recovered this amount from the 900 million
subscribers or they would have gone bust. For each subscriber this
comes to an additional bill of Rs.1955. The amount would in fact be
far more, since teh 900 million subscribers were not there from the
beginning.
Could someone explain if this is what the CAG and the opposition
parties want? Why? What is wrong if the Aam Aadmi is given a subsidy
if the form of free spectrum?

from:  Raghusn
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 14:11 IST

I am (to best of my belief !) of above average intelligence and has
followed 2G row in news.. But I am more or less stumped with this
article.. I am not sure what exactly RP Singh got wrong at least not on
first reading.. Would you mind 'dumbing down' the article ? (may be with
more figures)

from:  Rakesh
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 14:01 IST

Sometimes when it is difficult to decide for ourselves whether to believe a turncoat
Like mr Singh and Congress propaganda machine or a respectful institution like the CAG,
the Hindu provides a true impartial view of the subject. Alas there aren't many newspapers
around like this today in India. The news contents is so full with facts and supported by solid
research that I am sure that people like me living abroad won't even mind paying for the
content. Thank you so much for enlightening us with the truth on so many pressing issues
that our country faces today!

from:  Sandeep
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 13:57 IST

It is not clear whether the Government is running or it is play ground for the politicians to settle score and secure a point. Is it a gateway to release all the connected from this 2G scam?

from:  Kotikannan
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 13:56 IST

I suppose Mr RP Singh eying for Congress ticket in forthcoming Loksabha elections. Good Luck RP!

from:  Rajesh Verma
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 13:15 IST

I wish to add only one point to this excellent and tightly-argued and well-presented
analysis by Shalini Singh and the comments, in particular by Varadarajan.

As a former Addl Deputy CAG, I wish to add that apart from the audit guidelines in
the public domain, in-depth audits like this are diligently planned, discussed,
improved upon and are reviewed, mid-stream. The ultimate product is that of the
team. The audit planning notes like this usually originate from the Chiefs of Audit
Centres, like Mr.R.P.Singh's. Why he prevaricates, I do not know.

from:  Soundararajan Srinivasa
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 13:13 IST

You cannot bury the truth for ever, but you may be successful in hiding it or manipulating it for a while!!

'Ill gotten money also brings in illegal problems' in a persons life.

from:  Clement Stephen
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 13:10 IST

Mr R P Singh a bureaucrat says that he signed the document under compulsion(with out reading)!! Then he is unfit to be in that office. !!

from:  C S Sundaresha
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 13:06 IST

Terming CAG's quantification of loss as "Presumptive loss" itself is NOT correct. Actually the licences were under priced to benefit the private companies which in turn resorted to valuation of their shares based on the future earnings from such licences and made a huge killing. Thanks to CAG and Supreme Court intervention, these private entities could not exploit the licence ( a natural resource owned by the public). Thus a macro and objective view needs to be taken and quantification of loss by CAG is correct. CAG depended on TRAI's expertise. I don't know particular reasons for Mr. R P Singh to contradict his own reports - may be his political ambitions or any other compulsions.

As far as M M Joshi is concerned, as PAC and its Chairman have got every right to direct CAG to look into any particular aspect of Govt. policy where revenue leakage or excess expenditure is suspected. Hence nobody can fault MMJ for his proactive role.

from:  S VASUDEVAN
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 13:01 IST

Splendid!You have exposed the hollowness in RP Singh's argument very
effectively.I only want to add that CBI, which is presently an arm of
the UPA II Governement, also had estimated more than Rs.20,000 crores
and never the figure RP Singh quotes. Even if for a second we concede
that what RP Singh says is correct, by no means the loss is small
enough to be written off.But it is now clear aftre the Hindu's well
argued points, who is exposed and certainly not BJP as contended by the
UPA Chairperson!

from:  SARANATHAN
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 12:58 IST

@anil; you have not only studied the article in detail not at all understood/nor willing to understand about the basic issue.Also the entire background to the 2G fraud u are trying to hide/by pass.Indexation is only a minor theoritical part of the issue.Neither you are bothered about the loss due to S-Tel offer basis nor the loss due to off-loading of shares at phenomenal price having cornered the spectrum at a throw away price nor the basis of 3G auction.
The point is Raja/FM PC saw a wind fall opportunity of Maran's 'mastermind at work of manipulation' citing NDA policies etc to safely loot without getting caught.This is not the job of our Hon'ble ministers & people voted them to govern &not to loot.your fanciful typewriter case study etc reveals how smug you are about the whole
issue.

from:  ramachandrasekaran
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 12:54 IST

Mr. R.P. Singh must have been offered some post retirement benefits from the govt. to level such baseless charges & defame CAG.

from:  Lalit Awasthi
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 12:46 IST

@anil the problem here is that your points are based on complete ignorance. You have not cared to mention in your comment the whole set of facts about the CAG figures. Actually CAG gave three estimates based on three different methods ranging from some 30k crores to that of 1.76 lakh crores. It was media and every other politicians who highlighted only the largest figure. In this case how does the blame lie with CAG?
The analysis of CAG was justified and they gave proper reasoning for it and it was left for PAC to verify it.As far as the current situation is concerned it's pretty clear that government is embarrassed by the whole fiasco and is going all out to prove that CAG and supreme court were wrong by citing the meager amount gained from the recent 2G auctions. Any person can understand that with time the value of a product decreases more so when new technologies appear in the market. The same has happened with 2G after introduction of more advanced 3G.

from:  aakash
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 12:46 IST

Very well analysed article. I am sure the political class including
holding ministerial posts would not offer comments hereafter without
proper study and understanding to belittle the post of CAG

from:  KUPPUSWAMY
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 12:42 IST

2G Scam: Delay in auction,Failure of Auction & Now Doubt on the
integrity of CAG:Is this mere co-incidence or congress induced?? Im sure
same co-incidence will happen with other scams too..

from:  dr rakesh kumar
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 12:38 IST

All the previous documents and statements of R.P.Singh loses effect in one word of Singh that he was finally under compulsive obligation to obey his higher authority, however much he disagreed and agitated with letters addressed to Dy. CAG marking copies to CAG. As he quotes specific instances including PAC-chairman’s interference and CAG-officials’ visit to his residence with dates, it is not impossible for verification. We cannot rubbish the fact that no officer would have guts to stake his life sustaining force of service and pension to oppose his highest authority in vain on the verge of his retirement especially all powerful autonomous constitutional authority of CAG in this case. It is not new for politicians like Joshi to rubbish allegations against them. But the BJP which insists the ministers of the ruling party to resign immediately on allegations against them, has a moral obligation to replace Joshi, with suitable person from the party as PAC chairman.

from:  K. Subashchandran
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 12:27 IST

A complete divergent view to that of INDIAN EXPRESS .There we are told how CAG and MMJ have collided with documentary proof. This article is written by one who already decided who is the culprit and trying to put her views for that. BUT what people expect from the "HINDU " is a non biased report of the incidents that happened and let the readers decide.

from:  Gopinath
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 12:17 IST

1) Working of Mr. R.P.Singh as revealed by his own statements shows his
incompetence as an officer.
a) Finding the loss in allocation only by indexation and not by market
price
b) selective reading of TRAI recommendations
c) signing the report without agreeing with its contents
d) not asking for additional audit guidelines to be framed if he thinks
it was required and instead acting with his instincts
e) disposing before PAC & JPC and not revealing the full facts which he
choose to now speak about before media
are some of the points (among many) which show his incompetence.
2) Timing of his public comments is suspicious
3) Even if loss is exaggerated, we cannot rule out the massive loss to
exchequer, there was massive loss
4) Even if we ignore loss to exchequer, there seems to be malafide and
corruption involved in allocation of spectrum

What he says about PAC chairman influencing auditing should be
investigated but we cannot deny the corruption that took place in
allocation

from:  Harsh Kumar
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 12:08 IST

The issue here is the validity of "presumptive loss". Standard practice of audits allow depreciation of assets acquired in past. But they never project appreciation. This is the job of stock market gurus.
Moreover, CAG's presumptive loss theory is busted in recent spectrum auction. I
don't know why Hindu keeps harping on this as of this is the actual loss suffered by the government.

from:  Rajesh
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 12:05 IST

Great article revealing contradictions ... @Anil is stupid with his comments ... The article talks about the pieces of TRAI's recommendations that this dishonest Singh leveraged for a narrow cause not how businesses are conducted in practice. Also, the whole purpose of any audit is to make sure the businesses are done legitimately. If CAG cannot be believed, who else are we going to trust?

from:  Deepak
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 12:04 IST

@anil, Nice post. Good to see there are people out there who still
possess a sense of logic and intelligence.

from:  Raghusn
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 11:54 IST

Lies,Damn Lies and R.P.Singh.

from:  n mohan
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 11:51 IST

Since the Government has failed to counter the charge that a major scam took
place, they are seeking to obfuscate the issue by casting doubts on the scale of the loss. Whether the loss was Rs 1.76 lakh crores or Rs 2,645 crores is irrelevant -
both figures are astronomical. It is a shame that instead of owning up responsibility they seek to cast aspersions on the CAG which is a constitutional body whose findings ought to be taken seriously. No that the opposition is
conducting itself any more honorably ... their repeated disruptions of Parliament are irresponsible and totally politically motivated. Shows how morally bankrupt our politics has become. One hopes that the Supreme Court will get to the bottom of this matter and file charges against all concerned, whether in the UPA or NDA governments of the time and howsoever high.

from:  Ajay Singh
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 11:49 IST

Shalini singh is clear and articulate as ever. Cudos to author to explain the technicality of the issue with understandable verbatim!!

from:  selva
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 11:41 IST

Its a shame that congress has gone to the extent of vilifying the high
constitutional authorities for their interests and to mask their
misdeeds. R P Singh should be thoroughly probed (off course,not by CBI).

from:  Sachin Ghagare
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 11:36 IST

A good and comprehensive analysis. By supporting and perhaps initiating Mr.R.P.Singh's fallacious and contradictory arguments, the Congress party plays cheap politics.

from:  K.R.Srivarahan
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 11:17 IST

Can any one investigate how many crores was paid by the "CON"gress to the dishonest
Auditor RP Singh.
The most important qualification for an Auditor is HONESTY,which I am afraid is absent with
RPSingh.

from:  Srinivasan
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 11:13 IST

The Congress has backed an officer who reports to the CAG and not the CAG. If the Congress feels that the present CAG Mr Vinod Rai has acted against the mandate of the constitutional body like the CAG, then it should show guts and impeach Mr Rai and settle the matter once for all.

from:  t n vaidyanathapura
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 11:11 IST

What a silly article that is completely rubbish in its logic. Where in the world of real business does everything get priced as per "indexation"?? Can you sell a typewriter today at an "indexed val;ue" of 50000/-?? Besides, 2G valued at 1p/sec can easily be valued even today, and will have absolutely no relationship with 3G valuations. Both are as different from each other as Air fares and Train fares. 2G has 900 million customers based on a sprectrum fee of 1658 crores. 3G has got not even 1 million customers. Is not 3G the scam on people, rather than 2G which has satisfied 900 million indians? Just the fact that even the Hindu cannot come up with a loss figure, shows how complex the valuation exercise can be. That too in an evolving technology that has no precedence in the world. Even facebook shares lost 50% value, within a fortnight of its listing, wiping out usd 21 billion in 17 trading sessions. Is CAG such an valuation expert?

from:  Anil
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 10:55 IST

The ruling party very well know how to influence the government machinery. High ranking officer like Director general can sign the
report as sought, therefore there is possibility that he has been lured
to give such statement. He cannot be trusted. Scam ridden government is
trying to roll its ball into opposition court and also is disturbing
constitutional machinery and this is shamefull.

from:  Atul
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 10:19 IST

It is sad that the constitutional post of the CAG is sought to be disreputed by the Govtt spokesperson,fuelled unfortunately by RP Singh's disclosure that he had a different perception.The then Cabinet Seceretary and the then Finance Secretary both key officials to advise the Govtt onthe prudence needed had gone on record voicing their concern on the unreasonably low throw away price of 2G spectrum price for allotments then.If Govtt were to contend that looking to the auctioned realisations now,the irregularuty is not as serious as is made out by the CAG,why Raja alone should go through the incarcecration for only some procedural lapses.What was even the basis of CBI estimate on loss in the charge sheet.? Had the advices of the bureaucracy who had shown better devotion to duty been heeded and auctioned then ,revenue realisation would have been more.The soaked hands of 2007 cannot be washed in 2012 waters

from:  vn ramachandran
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 10:07 IST

It seems that he is working as a congress agent and might have been paid to defame CAG. The question here is why is he disclosing the fact now ? Why not he oppose when he was made to sign the document. Now that he is ex-CAG employee, Congress is fully utilising him ..

from:  Kalu Majhi
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 09:54 IST

The article is illuminating. In sum and substance, the purport is that we should respect certain institutions like the CAG, the Election Commission, the PAC and so on and their work. One assumes that within these, appropriate checks and balances would be provided for, ensuring that while individual opinions can be aired and discussed, the public can take cognisance of only the official output. In much the same way as we treat court judgements.

The other point to be made is - who's word/report is trustworthy? Who will be the judge of this? If in doubt, who could investigate to get at the truth? Would we then believe the second version? Obviously, we need an independent and empowered investigative agency as demanded in the Lokpal. Will we ever get one?

from:  varadarajan raman
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 09:42 IST

The Hindu, after creating such a worthless hoopla about the Rs. 1.76
lakh crore "presumptive loss", tries again to obfuscate the REAL issue
in this article:
1. 3G carries voice, data and image. While 2 G carries ONLY voice. TRAI was technically wrong in considering 2G = 3G for valuation purpose. 2G should have lower value than 3G. RP Sing is correct.
2. Yes, RP Sing some times disagrees with TRAI, and other times agrees with it. Where's the problem? Please focus on his reasoning.
3. A. Raja moved the cut off date for logistical reason. How come it is "illegal"? Assume that he wanted to issue 122 licenses using the First Come Qualified First Served basis (which is a Policy Decision of both NDA and UPA Govt). As soon as sufficient number of applications was received he stopped receiving anymore. He moved the cut off date (about a week earlier than previously declared) to tell the interested parties. What's wrong in it? This would not have changed the whole outcome.
CAG Rai was wrong

from:  Yamaka
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 09:35 IST

I cannot fully understand the figures and analysis but, I appreciate the effort by Shalini Singh to spread light on the shabby deal. I think, again UPA (Sonia)is planning to project it as ZERO loss!! I hope Shalini Singh's effort will not go in vain!!

from:  C S Sundaresha
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 09:28 IST

This man Singh must have been purchased at a high cost
after his retirement. In Times Now and in other channels he was seen
visibly nervous in facing the grilling. His ex-boss , another retired
Dy CAG directly rubbished Singh's his arguments that he was pressurised
for that figure. Therefore, it is another huge scam for UPA Govt who can
do anything to sell the country under the leadership of an imported
person.

from:  Bakumbai
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 09:27 IST

He is showing true character of Indian bureaucrats.I have seem many officials similar to this gentleman in government levels.Here probably if enquired, you would find some offer either in the form of money, or plots or some postings in foreign lands for his descendants.The moot question is how you can compare the scenario of 2007-08 with 2012? Likely can the health of an old man be compared to health of the same gentleman when he has been young man in terms of parameters like strength, heart conditions just by simple chart?

from:  atis
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 09:18 IST

I had privilege to watch one of his many interviews last night and he was so inconsistent and appalling out right that I was left wondering that how could this man go to such high ranks in CAG office at the very first place.

from:  Manish
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 09:12 IST

Well researched article objectively placing facts which are already in public domain in contrast to what the media in general was chanting whole day yesterday.

from:  Himanshu Pande
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 09:10 IST

Ok.But unfortunately this issue is being used for political sparring. Whatever may be the reasons for his revelations the whole matter needs to be summarily dismissed as irrelevant. According to the Constitution, CAG is the authority ,who submits his reports to the President for being laid before the Parliament . None else has any locus standi vis-a-vis Parliament except as represeting him. The signature of the primary auditor on the report is only an internal arrangement within CAG.He has absolute power to hold a different perception on the facts presented by the primary auditor and can suitably modify the report.As long as the CAG defends his report,he is totally within his remit.Now if any other lower officer ,who actually did the audit on site, comes up with a reveletion that his projection of loss was much less and it was modified by Mr R P Singh,does it also need to be publicised? Let our polticians agree not to drag the highly respected institution in to their politics.

from:  K.v.S.S.Sitaramarao
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 08:51 IST

Media is trying to back up the Congress Party's gameplan by all sorts of documents and notings,acceptances and denials,to disprove the SC judgment. The nuances of these,notings and documents,are beyond the comprehension of common-man. I am only sorry that The Hindu is joining in this well-orchestrated chorus.

from:  G.Narayanaswamy
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 08:44 IST

Ex-CAG is either under duress by the CONgress or expecting a second rehabilitation job. It is not the numbers but FRAUD has taken place or not is the issue. CONgress is making noise on the numbers as if no fraud taken place, which is a clever move by the CONmen.
Main Political parties are just mudslinging and CAG need not take part by replying to CONgress's outbursts.

from:  sankar
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 08:21 IST

If an officer of IA&AS cadre worked for the dept. over thirty years denies the very papers he has vetted, after retirement shows that he budged to the external pressures and needs to be ignored

from:  seshu
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 07:52 IST

Thank you The Hindu newspaper. You have made your argument with evidence. Yours is truly a high quality newspaper with high quality editorial and journalism. I would compare it to the New York Times for excellence. No other Indian newspaper even comes close.

from:  Prabal
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 07:43 IST

Has investigation been done about Mr.Singh's claim that he was just a signatory to a report just as a subordinate to do his duty to sign rather than agree to the contents? Simply to say that because he signed and therefore agreed to it is not enough argument. Often, even in serious court cases, witnesses go back and forth -- under pressure or not. I believe a news report has to look into this aspect of a whistle blower or a dissenter who was not allowed by his nature of duties. Investigate all minutes (oral records also) of meetings and discussions held in CAG -- whether formal or informal.

from:  Hari Subramanian
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 07:14 IST

R.P.Singh's statements are so riddled with inconsistencies that these do not carry conviction.However what is worrying one more is the attack in public by a very senior retired government servant on the decisions taken by the department he was working in on matters he was working on.Is there no law prohibiting retired government servants behaving in such a manner?

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 06:53 IST

As always getting a stooge to point fingers at C & AG is backfiring on the UPA-II. While most of our 'friendly' TV channels have been swallowing the news whole without being able to digest it, The Hindu must be congratulated in its presentation.As always Ms Shalini Singh is incisive in nailing falsehoods and contradictions peppering Sri R.P. Singh's statements.Before 2014 is upon us the ruling dispensation will parade before the mangoes several such moles and helpers!

from:  Dr.V.Mahadevan
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 06:25 IST

Shalini Singh’s analysis, which upholds standards of ethical, classy
and objective journalism, on the “explosive disclosures” by the
former Director General, CAG, R P Singh is mind boggling and a big
blow to UPA II. Bouquets to Ms. Shalini singh for her comprehensive
analysis to expose the truth. It is surprising and sad that Ms.
Sonia Gandhi accepted his claims as true, contrary to the fact that
"Mr Singh is wrong on all counts". Let us hope that good sense will
prevail upon the UPA ministers and spokespersons to expose only the
true facts to the public.

from:  K.V.Mallan
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 06:00 IST

Though I could grasp hardly one percent of the arguments put forth by
the author, I understood the words "it was Mr Singh who made the
presentation to the PAC and at the press conference where he never spoke
a word against the report, its process, robustness or integrity." Thanks
Hindu and please convey strongly to the authorities that lay people are
watching keenly.

from:  chandrasekaran
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 05:34 IST

Haven't we flogged this horse way too much than what's being attempted. The
simple fact that there were vested interests on both sides - Mr. Raja being the
obvious suspect and the bunch of others, including the opposition, a section of the CAG who wanted all the hype and glamour associated with a messy investigation.
Just image this, we have fanciful people coming on TV, dressed up smart and looking great and arguing it out that the loss was colossal and the people have been cheated and they go on about this with the least concern to numbers, which obviously we should have expected the CAG to be good at. Come on, haven't we grown out of the
insecurity of not letting a contrarian point of view express itself?
The CAG numbers were stupid and anyone with a bit of a taste to numbers would
have got it. To continue to put perfume on that pig of a report would hardly be worth it.

from:  Jacob
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 05:26 IST

Can a PIL not be filed to investigate the behavior of Mr R. P Singh
after his retirement. It should be investigated why he, who was part
of CAG and knows how comprehensively CAG is working in these matters
(quote from your write-up "Moreover the findings were reviewed by 5
officers of his seniority, who agreed with the findings and yet Mr
Singh did not protest."), is creating wrong and misleading impressions
and on whose behalf he is doing it.
Creating a false image of CAG and disparaging a good institution should be considered a very serious matter, on proof of false accusation it should be treated as if abetting those criminal corruption scams themselves.

from:  Pankaj Gupta
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 05:22 IST

I always revere your article, the investigation behind it and the
analysis put through it. But seriously, despite being a final year
B.Tech I was not able to understand many technicalities in this
article. this is humble request to please simplify it a little.

from:  amit lonkar
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 05:20 IST

Very nicely written report.

from:  swami
Posted on: Nov 24, 2012 at 02:34 IST
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