The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), probing the 2G telecom spectrum allocation scam, is unlikely to call former Telecom Minister A. Raja as a witness before it.
Dropping broad hints regarding it, Congress spokesperson and JPC Chairman P.C. Chacko on Monday said that “no rule specifies the right of a man to appear before a Committee.”
“No such rule exists that a man has a right to appear before a Committee. A man may be called for the benefit of a Committee or before the JPC but it has to be decided that whether calling him is beneficial for the Committee,” he said.
At the same time, Mr. Chacko said that he was not denying Mr. Raja’s demand for coming before a Committee.
“I still do not deny his right to write for appearance before a Committee,” Mr. Chacko said but maintained that the JPC headed by him was not going into piecemeal or one or two incidents but the whole gamut of telecom policy and its implementation in 10 years.
“In ten years, there are so many accused persons,” he said but denied a categorical answer whether the JPC would call Mr. Raja saying “no casual yes or no” answer is possible.
He denied that the majority in the JPC are in favour of calling Raja but added “of course I have received a letter from Mr. Raja. Some members do feel that why can’t we call him if he has given a letter for this.”
Mr. Chacko had earlier said, “The general impression among the committee members is that all principal witnesses have been examined and it is time we start writing the report. But I will take any decision on calling Raja after discussing the issue with other members“.
Mr. Raja had written to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Mr. Chacko last month making a strong pitch for appearance before the JPC as a witness claiming that he has been “condemned unheard”.
The DMK members also demanded calling Attorney General G E Vahanvati again before the panel after he told JPC earlier this month that the controversial press note regarding 2G licences was changed at the last minute by Raja in 2008 with a different pen. AG Vahanvati was then the Solicitor General.
Congress members in the JPC are against calling Raja as a witness as his deposition could be used by opposition members, including BJP and the Left, in cornering the government.
Mr. Raja has maintained that he had kept the Prime Minister’s Office and others informed about his decisions on 2G licencing issue.
Backing Mr. Raja’s plea to be summoned as a witness before the JPC, BJP on Sunday said a meeting of the panel should be called at the earliest to take a final call on summoning the “key player” in the 2G scam.
Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, who is a member of the JPC, has written to Mr. Chacko asking him to call a meeting “at the earliest” to decide on summoning Raja as witness.
CPI(M) member in the committee Sitaram Yechury has already supported Mr. Raja’s plea to be called as witness. “The more witnesses the merrier,” he said adding that his deposition would help JPC reach “closer to the truth”.
DMK members in JPC T.R. Baalu and T Siva have been pressing Mr. Chacko to call Mr. Raja as a witness.
The DMK members have also demanded calling the Attorney General again before the panel after he told the JPC last month that the controversial press note regarding 2G licences was changed at the last minute by Raja in 2008 using a different pen.
Mr. Raja has also been blamed for the 2G scam by other witnesses before the special CBI court.
Asked why Mr. Raja should not be given a chance to defend himself against the contention of Vahanvati, Mr. Chacko said that the AG has also made similar deposition before the Court, where Mr. Raja can contest him.