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Updated: July 25, 2013 03:48 IST

Raja won’t get a chance to testify

Shalini Singh
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A. Raja. File Photo: Kamal Narang
BL A. Raja. File Photo: Kamal Narang

The only task now left for JPC is to discuss and adopt the report: Chacko

Despite the controversial extension to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), investigating the 2G scam, following allegations by some members that key witnesses were not examined, it is now fairly certain that the former Telecom Minister and the prime accused in the scam, A. Raja, will not be invited to appear as a witness in front of the Committee.

Speaking to The Hindu, JPC chairman, P.C. Chacko said “I was authorised by the JPC to present my report, which I have done. This means the witness examination is officially over. There is no question of inviting any more witnesses to depose.”

Opposition members of the JPC, led by CPI leader, Gurudas Dasgupta, BJP members, Yashwant Sinha and Ravi Shankar Prasad have demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Mr. Raja, be called in as witnesses in the JPC.

Laying down the limited objective of holding a meeting of the JPC, Mr. Chacko said, “the only task now left for the JPC is to discuss and adopt the report, which will require another two meetings at best before the tenure of the JPC expires on August 30.” The JPC has been extended till the end of the monsoon session of Parliament.

However, Mr. Sinha highlighted that the dissent from the JPC members had already made the draft report practically null and void, while the absence of a fresh report or any attempt to collect fresh evidence ensured that there was nothing to discuss even if a meeting of the JPC was eventually convened.

With these two extreme positions, the stage appears set for additional friction when the Parliament session begins on August 5, 2013. At the end of the last session, 15 of the 30-member JPC accused Mr. Chacko of leaking the draft report. Mr. Chacko clarified that the report had been sent in sealed envelopes only to the JPC members.

These developments show that Mr. Raja’s fears, expressed in his letter of February 22, 2013, to the Lok Sabha Speaker, that he may be “condemned unheard” may come true. Mr. Raja had written, “the truth of he matter is being suppressed on the basis of preconceived notions, deliberate bias, faulty investigations and erroneous conclusions.”

Mr. Raja had labelled the testimonies of the DoT officials and AG Vahanvati, to the JPC as “contrary to the facts of the case and intended to be an exercise in blame-shifting.” He warned: “It is vital that the JPC not be misguided by false and incomplete evidence.”

On March 8, Mr. Chacko wrote to Mr. Raja seeking his response to a set of 4 questions. Mr. Raja replied on March 13. In response to the AG’s allegations that Mr. Raja ignored the advice of Law and Finance Ministry, Mr. Raja’s second letter said, “If given an opportunity to appear before the JPC, I will establish that these allegations are misconceived and that all decisions were taken collectively by the Department of Telecom, which expressed tacit consent of other senior functionaries in the government.” He claimed that JPC was “proceeding without regard to fundamental principles of natural justice”.

Leaked report

Later, the leaked draft JPC report on 2G, in April 2013, named Mr. Raja in 27 places. Mr. Raja responded with a 106-page counter, claiming that PM Manmohan Singh had agreed with his actions, all of which were conveyed to him well ahead of the issuance of letter of Intent on January 10, 2008. Mr. Raja wrote, “The records showing the interaction between the DoT, the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister, make it clear that there was unanimity on the point that startup spectrum would not be auctioned and there would be no revision of entry fee for the new operators.”

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