New material shows that senior government officers, led by the Cabinet Secretary himself, were “tutored” to present a synchronous response to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) investigating the 2G scam, allegedly to protect Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
This action by officials may well be construed as an attempt by the government to compromise the mandate, functioning and outcome of the JPC and the PAC, say JPC members.
According to documents available with The Hindu, the former Cabinet Secretary, K.M. Chandrashekhar, met these officials on numerous occasions, “for formulating an agreed approach for all concerned ministries, departments and PMO” — between January and July 2011, before delivering their sworn testimonies before the JPC and PAC on 2G. This move of coaching witnesses is seen as bordering on illegality and subverting the purpose of an independent inquiry, by two of the most high-power institutions — JPC and PAC — both of which represent a mini-Parliament.
The material, which was submitted to the JPC Secretariat under the heading, ‘Member Reference SI.No.11’, is an eight-page note titled ‘Schedule of Meetings held under the Chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary for formulating an agreed approach of all concerned Ministries/Departments/PMO (March-Sept’11).’ The note documents the first email exchanged by the Cabinet Secretariat on the matter on January 28, 2011, recording all subsequent correspondence/meetings all the way till July 7, 2011.
This note further documents a meeting on June 3, 2011, in which the Cabinet Secretariat/PMO, “objected to the reference note recorded by then Finance Secretary dated 6th July, 2008, stating that the “agreed” position of the then Finance Minister and the then Telecom Minister was ‘reported’ to PM”. Later, “the text was revised accordingly, as suggested by Cabinet Secretary/PMO officials.”
CPI Leader, Gurudas Dasgupta, has written to JPC Chairman, P.C. Chacko, objecting to the Cabinet Secretary’s role in seeking to arrive at an “agreed approach – that is tantamount to diluting the evidence and tutoring all concerned to leave no loopholes so that the JPC is unable to find out any discrepancy.” He also alleged that “since despite my request, my earlier letters have not been circulated among the (JPC) Members, I am forced to do it myself.”
The fact that such senior government officials — many of them witnesses — came together, exchanged emails and discussed presentations before formulating positions, reveals the government’s nervousness about the independent testimonies of Ministers, politicians, and bureaucrats before the PAC and JPC investigating the 2G scam.
Mr. Dasgupta, in his note to Mr. Chacko, has alleged that such action amounts to denying the JPC the “right to have full and free access” to the development as that led to massive irregularities.