Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has contended that the rules of the 2G Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) could be modified to enable the panel to summon ministers as witnesses.
In a letter to JPC chairman P.C. Chacko, the BJP leader maintained that there can be no problem in “creating a new precedent” by this panel as was done by the JPC in 1992 (for the market scam) when ministers were summoned for evidence.
The latest communication of Mr. Sinha to the JPC chief came two days after Mr. Chacko asked Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar to decide on the demand for summoning of the Finance Minister P. Chidambaram as a witness before the Committee.
Mr. Chacko has categorically ruled out summoning of the Prime Minister. However, on summoning of Mr. Chidambaram, he has left the matter to the Speaker.
Separately, the BJP-affiliated members have also written to the Speaker appraising their point of view.
Six of them have been staying away from the JPC meetings for nearly a month, in support of their demand for inclusion of Dr. Singh and Mr. Chidambaram in the list of witnesses to be examined.
Mr. Sinha’s contention is that the 2G JPC is of “special nature” and given its mandate, the panel can modify the rules of procedure.
The BJP leader argued that it was mandatory to call the Prime Minister as a witness as Dr. Singh had taken certain decisions on allotment of 2G licences.
“There are decisions which the Prime Minister has taken which he alone can explain, which cannot be explained properly even by senior officials of his secretariat,” the letter said.
Mr. Sinha referred to the earlier statement of Dr. Singh that he had no hesitation in appearing before the JPC.
While conceding that as per the existing rules, a minister cannot be called before a Committee to give evidence, Mr. Sinha recalled the statement made by the then Leader of the House, Pranab Mukherjee' at the time of the constitution of the JPC that rules of procedure of the House would apply to it with “such variations and modifications as the Speaker may make.”
“I think there can be no dispute that the nature of the scam is uncommon and the Committee is entitled to adopt an uncommon procedure, as indeed other JPCs have done in the past, with the Speaker’s approval,” Mr. Sinha said.
He reiterated that his party had no objection to ministers of the erstwhile NDA government, including himself and Jaswant Singh, who are members of the JPC, being summoned.
“There is nothing awkward about it. I have already pointed out to you that though I was a member of the JPC which had been formed to enquire into the market scam of 1992, I was asked by the Committee to tender my evidence in writing,” Mr. Sinha said.