There may or not be a precedent — Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi was not too sure — but he did speak to an official of the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) office, asking to be briefed on the “status” of the audit on the 2G spectrum allocation before its report was completed and tabled in Parliament.
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh tweeted suggesting Dr. Joshi was trying to pressure the CAG to expedite the audit and there was a possible nexus between him and the CAG. Dr. Joshi, however, dismissed the charge.
The office of CAG Vinod Rai, in a statement on Wednesday, made it “absolutely clear that there was no pressure from any quarter” on it and it had also “made it clear to the PAC that audit findings cannot be shared with anyone, including the PAC, before being tabled in Parliament.”
Dr. Joshi's case: he was not trying to exert any pressure whatsoever on the CAG, but wanted to know why there was delay in finalising a report on the 2G matter as the CAG itself had assured the PAC at its January 28, 2010 meeting that its report would be ready within six months. “I do not know whether there is a precedent [on making an inquiry with the CAG on any audit it has undertaken]. I was only trying to inquire about the status of the report — the time-frame, not the contents,” he told journalists.
The controversy on the PAC and the 2G issue broke out on Tuesday after an internal note, dated 13 July, 2010, sent by a CAG official — R.B. Sinha, Director General (RC) — to another (Deputy CAG Rekha Gupta), recorded a phone conversation Mr. Sinha had with Dr. Joshi. Mr. Sinha noted that Dr. Joshi wanted to know the status of the 2G spectrum allocation audit, suggested that the CAG complete its work before the end of the monsoon session and demanded a “brief” in the next two to three days.
At a PAC meeting on January 28, 2010, the CAG had “given an assurance that the findings on ‘allocation of 2G spectrum' as also ‘revenue sharing' would be ready within six months.” This too has been recorded internally by CAG officials in a letter dated February 3, 2010 from Mr. Sinha to R.P. Singh, Director-General of Audit, Post and Telecommunications.
On Wednesday, Dr. Joshi not only confirmed his conversation with Mr. Sinha but also distributed photocopies of the CAG note.