“69 suggestions of Ashok Chawla panel not accepted”

In a reply which is likely to cause a major embarrassment to it in Parliament, the Centre on Thursday informed the Supreme Court that it had not accepted 69 of the 81 recommendations of the Ashok Chawla Committee that natural resources be auctioned.

On August 9, three questions were raised in the Rajya Sabha — “whether it is a fact that the Ashok Chawla Committee has submitted its report in the wake of the 2G spectrum scam to the government; if so, the details of the recommendations and the number of recommendations that have been accepted; and how many are yet to be accepted and what is the time frame.”

Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena, in a written reply, said the committee gave 81 recommendations covering eight natural resources — coal, minerals, petroleum, natural gas, spectrum, forests, land and water. He said: “The government has accepted 69 recommendations, one has not been accepted and 11 are under consideration.”

Answer to be corrected

Completely disowning this reply, the Telecom Secretary, in a note approved by the Cabinet Secretariat and filed in the court on Thursday, said “the statement and the answer that the government has accepted 69 recommendations are not accurate and the correct position is that it was decided that the 69 recommendations would be pursued by the individual Ministries in a timely manner. The Department of Economic Affairs [Ministry of Finance] is taking steps to correct the answer in the Rajya Sabha.”

Swamy’s argument

Last week, during arguments on the ‘2G Presidential Reference’, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy produced documents in the court to show that the government had accepted the Chawla Committee’s recommendations.

He said “the government has adopted auction as a policy for certain natural resources. They have asked the Ministries to implement it. A Reference is not necessary and any opinion by the court may create a piquant situation.”

Opinion reserved

Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia then asked Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati to respond to Dr. Swamy’s submissions.

The court, thereafter, reserved its opinion on the issue.

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