Uncertainty over when sittings will begin

Senior Congress leader from Kerala and four-time Lok Sabha member P.C. Chacko has been named Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the alleged scam in the grant of 2G spectrum and telecom licences from 1998 to 2009.

Speaker Meira Kumar is believed to have approved the government recommendation to nominate Mr. Chacko to head the multiparty committee. A notification on the decision is expected to be made in the Lok Sabha bulletin.

The entire winter session was lost in the stand-off between the government and the Opposition on the subject. Days before the commencement of the budget session, the UPA government agreed to set up the JPC. Of the 30 members on the committee, 20 including Mr. Chacko are from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha.

The JPC has been given time till the end of the monsoon session of Parliament to give its report. There is uncertainty over when the JPC will begin its sittings as a number of members may be busy with the Assembly elections in five States.

Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee headed by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, which is separately enquiring into the award of 2G telecom licences, is scheduled to have its next meeting on March 8.

The Opposition became vociferous on the JPC demand after the Comptroller and Auditor-General estimated that the government incurred a presumptive loss of Rs.1,76 lakh crore owing to irregularities in the allotment of telecom licences.