Opposition leaders want R.P. Singh back to explain contradictions
Opposition leaders in the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) want to call back the former CAG official, R.P. Singh, to explain contradictions between his media statements — that CAG estimates of 2G losses are inflated — and his deposition before the JPC last year.
During his deposition, Mr. Singh had said he didn’t disagree with the final CAG report and was under no pressure to sign it. JPC members like the CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta ask why Mr. Singh didn’t choose to add a dissenting opinion to the report then — the normal practice in government institutions — but is now publicly denouncing the Rs 1.76-lakh crore loss estimate.
Mr. Dasgupta told The Hindu that Mr. Singh’s public disclosures were widely different from his deposition under oath to the JPC on November 14, 2011. “R.P. Singh is playing a fraud. He is subverting the JPC.”
Mr. Singh refused to comment when contacted.
Mr. Singh’s position also contradicts the stand taken by JPC Chairman P.C. Chacko.
Within hours of Mr. Singh making startling disclosures raising questions about the credibility of the CAG’s report, Mr. Chacko told the media on Friday: “As Chairman, I cannot reveal certain things now, but the fact is that Director-General Mr. Singh has made this deposition, and the same statement was made before the JPC committee.”
In his media interviews, Mr. Singh said he had presented his own loss estimate of Rs. 2,645 crore instead of the Rs. 1.76 lakh crore. He further raised questions about Public Accounts Committee chairman Murli Manohar Joshi acting in an improper manner with a view to influencing the CAG, a charge he later retracted on Karan Thapar’s show ‘The Devil’s Advocate.’ “I was misquoted,” he said.
On the PAC-related allegations made by Mr. Singh, Mr. Dasgupta said the PAC in February 2010 had suo motu started an investigation into the alleged malpractices in the spectrum distribution. “When conducting the enquiry, it called officers of the Finance Ministry and also called the CAG to assist them,” he explained, adding that the CAG never shared any report with the PAC since the CAG report was presented to Parliament much later, on November 16, 2010. Mr. Singh has said in the media that these meetings “can influence” the CAG and PAC reports.
Opposition leaders are also concerned that Mr. Singh is alluding to information he did not present before the JPC. “If a person is called to depose before a parliamentary committee and holds back information, which he subsequently discloses long after the JPC has almost completed its work, it amounts to violation of privilege,” Mr. Dasgupta said.
The BJP is also likely to move breach of privilege against Mr. Singh. Responding to the recent Congress disclosures in support of Mr. Singh, BJP member of the JPC Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “We certainly expect that the formal proceedings of the JPC, or any other Parliamentary body, to be articulated properly, especially by those who are associated with it.”
“What R.P. Singh has said, inter alia, suggests that the CAG report is a tutored one. He not only hurls allegations against the CAG but also holds the PAC as a co-conspirator. If he had such vital information, why did he not disclose it in the long session that he had with the JPC?,” Mr. Dasgupta added.