Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) Vinod Rai on Monday asserted that the presumptive loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh core arrived at by the organisation vis-?-vis the 2G spectrum allocation was based on sound principles and was within its mandate.
He was responding to specific questions by some members of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probing the 2G spectrum scam whether the CAG had exceeded its brief by going into a ‘policy' issue.
The members contended that the loss projected by the CAG was entirely notional as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had taken a policy decision that spectrum 800 to 1800 MHz would not be auctioned. The CAG was asked whether his institution had factored in the ‘policy decision' while arriving at the presumptive loss.
Another section of the JPC members contested the view that the functioning of the CAG was limited to audit and argued that it had the mandate to probe the implementation of the policy.
“The issue is not related to policy. Here it is the faulty implementation of the policy that led to the loss to the exchequer. To maintain that the CAG has no jurisdiction over an issue arising out of a policy matter is erroneous,” a JPC member told The Hindu.
The CAG, in a report to Parliament last year, pegged the presumptive loss to the exchequer on 2G spectrum allocation at Rs. 1.76 lakh crore. The findings of the report and the furore in Parliament led to the resignation of the then Telecom Minister, A. Raja.
It is not the first time that the question whether the CAG could look into a policy issue has arisen.
The issue was hotly debated in the Public Affairs Committee headed by Murli Manohar Joshi and he had ruled that the CAG was duty-bound to probe all relevant issues that had a bearing on revenue.