Charges the audit body with bringing ‘disrepute’ to nation

The draft JPC report on the 2G scam, while giving a clean chit to the PM, has said the CAG’s 2G audit report is responsible for “pitching the country amongst the most corrupt nations in the world”. The CAG report had led to ex-Telecom Minister, A. Raja’s resignation in November 2010, his arrest in February 6, 2011, and eventually, the Supreme Court judgment of February 2, 2013, cancelling 122 licences.

Striking similarities

The draft JPC report devotes 11 pages to challenging the CAG’s loss estimates, and does not acknowledge explicitly that a loss was caused. The report says that the NDA’s Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, was himself involved in the migration package which caused a loss of Rs. 42,080.34 crore. Among the reasons used to justify allocating spectrum in 2008 at 2001 rates are “public welfare; the background of NTP 1999; need to deliver services at reasonable prices to increase teledensity and benefit economy”.

Many of these can be found in the government’s January 7, 2011, press release.

Other arguments, such as the TRAI taking a view that revenue generation should not be a priority, or that allocating spectrum at historical rates without auctions is consistent with the objectives of the 10th Five-Year Plan, are included in the JPC draft, and a UPA press note, released one month before Mr Raja’s arrest by the CBI.

Regarding the three “presumptive loss” estimates arising out of 3G, Swan/Unitech transactions and the S Tel offer, the draft has language and figures which are similar and, in some cases, identical to those in the 25-page presentation accompanying the January 2011 press release. The arguments that 2G and 3G spectrum cannot be compared due to difference in spectral efficiencies or the time gap between 2G spectrum allocations in 2008 and 3G auctions in 2010 are also mirrored in the two documents.

As for Swan and Unitech’s equity transactions, inspite of the Supreme Court’s rejection of arguments by Swan, Unitech and government lawyers that, since infusion of FDI was legal, it amounts to “dilution” and “not sale” of equity — the JPC draft advances the same arguments that were made by the UPA through press releases of November 7, 2008 and January 7, 2011.

Large portions of the opposition to the CAG Audit report is based not on CAG, Vinod Rai’s testimony in the JPC, but that of ex-CAG official R.P. Singh. In November 2012, after several media interviews and statements distancing himself from the CAG’s loss estimates, hinting that he was forced to sign the audit report and that PAC Chairman, Murli Manohar Joshi may have influenced the CAG report, Mr. Singh later publicly withdrew his statement on Karan Thapar’s show, on grounds that “he was misquoted.”

The report draws multiple conclusions against the CAG, overruling the Supreme Court’s findings in its orders of March 12, 2010 and February 2, 2012, related to the 2G scam, to declare that the CAG and its loss calculations were responsible for the “disrepute caused to the nation”.

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