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Updated: November 15, 2011 01:05 IST

Twist in tale of differences within CAG

Special Correspondent
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Former CAG Director-General, Audit R.P. Singh appreared before the Joint Parliamentary Committee probing the 2G issue on Monday. File photo
The Hindu
Former CAG Director-General, Audit R.P. Singh appreared before the Joint Parliamentary Committee probing the 2G issue on Monday. File photo

The tale of differences within the office of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) on quantification of the presumptive loss in allotment of 2G spectrum licence has taken a new twist. A senior official in the office who expressed reservations about pegging the loss at Rs. 1.76 lakh crore had himself overruled the projected loss reported by the Field Unit Team under his charge.

R.P. Singh, CAG's ex-Director-General (Audit), in his deposition before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) looking into the telecom policy from 1998 to 2009, admitted that while the Field Unit had calculated the loss at Rs. 26,685 crore, he pegged it at Rs. 2,645 crore.

Mr. Singh, who was summoned by the JPC to explain why he did not agree with the figure mentioned in the final report of the CAG, however, could not explain why he affixed his signature to the report. Mr. Singh contended that as an ‘obedient government servant' he went by the judgment of the superior authority.

The CAG's basis of calculation of the notional loss to the exchequer on account of allotment of 2G spectrum licenses has been the subject of debate since the submission of the report in November 2010. CAG Vinod Rai had appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as well as the JPC to explain the rationale behind the calculation of presumptive loss.

The controversy got a new lease of life after a section of the media reported that Mr. Rai had ignored the objections raised by senior officials within his office. The media got a scent of it a few weeks after the retirement of Mr. Singh.

The JPC would hear the version of the CAG on the take of Mr. Singh on Tuesday. The CAG has reportedly expressed a desire that Mr. Singh be also present when they record his evidence. However, he was told that the committee took evidence individually.

The chief argument of Mr. Singh before the JPC was that the presumptive loss could not be quantified as auction of the spectrum was never contemplated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). In addition, the government never contemplated any charges other than entry fee for allotment of licences.

Then how did he arrive at a loss of Rs. 2,645 crore ? He reasoned that the entry fee fixed in 2003 should have been revised taking into account inflation and by that criteria the government suffered an ‘actual' and not presumptive loss of Rs. 2,645 crore.

Asked the basis on which he had overruled the Field Audit Report, which projected loss of potential revenue to the tune of Rs. 26,685 crore, Mr. Singh contended that he did not go by the version because there was ‘no conclusive evidence' to substantiate the figure.

At a news briefing later, the JPC chairman P.C. Chacko, when asked what purpose the testimony of Mr. Singh had served, said it clearly showed that the CAG office was not on the same page and did not function as a collective team in preparation of the final report on the 2G spectrum licences.

Mr. Chacko quoted Mr. Singh as telling the committee that since presumptive loss was not quantifiable, to show the presumptive loss would be bringing in individual judgment which was questionable. “Presumptive loss is a mathematical guess,” Mr. Singh told the Committee.

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The Hindu appears to have its own agenda in the matter. While yesterday it added some information saying that R P Singh had estimated different loss figures, which info did not appear in other media, today it is blacking out the info regarding reports (appearing in other media) that there were contacts between PAC Chairman M M Joshi and CAG Vinod Rai before submission of the CAG report.I predict that like the Chaturvedi of the Bofors report and one Nair, Ayodhya Dt. Magistrate who allowed the allowed the illegal, clandestine installation of the Ram Lala idol to continue at the Babri Masjid site, we can find Vinod Rai also in the BJP camp in the future.

from:  G. Radhakrishnan
Posted on: Nov 16, 2011 at 01:01 IST

Is it that quantifying the exchequer loss make any difference in
intensity of punishment award to the culprits?
The crux of the matter is that these silly controversy will only allow
time to the public memory to fade and let the culprit off the legal hook
to encourage all, to get into Indian politics where swindling is success
and the pillars of law are now beams of protection to the evil minds.

from:  N.B.LALL
Posted on: Nov 15, 2011 at 17:12 IST

~The ‘twist’ is as under:

~The loss of face for India in the Comity of Nations is terrible;

~The loss of confidence in the Prime Minister is worrisome;

~The dimensions of the multi-fold scam is terrifying;

~. 1.76 lakh crore/Rs. 2,645 crore/Rs. 26,685 crore is of little significance as the
direct, indirect and cumulative loss to the nation is much more.

~It is laughable to say, ‘... the CAG office was not on the same page and did not
function as a collective team in preparation of the final report on the 2G spectrum
licences...’. Genuine difference of opinion got sorted out by arriving at a consensus
and an agreed ultimate version. This involved overruling by and of Mr.RP Singh and
it is in order in any hierarchical organization like PMO or CAG.

Sir, I request the media to go for the jugular, instead of shadow-boxing amidst the

from:  Soundararajan Srinivasa
Posted on: Nov 15, 2011 at 15:11 IST

Why should the correctness of the information contained in a document received by the government officialy from the office of the CAG be doubted simply because a former CAG official connected with the preparation of the document has questioned it after submission of the report? One is at a loss to understand what is happening. These are indeed strange times!

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Nov 15, 2011 at 12:04 IST

the man now probably under fear .When he talks about !.76 lac crores as presumptive how else the figures 2645 crores alone can be actual for he himself says it is based on taking into account the inflationery factors ? Rather he can happily follow Sibal's 0 loss arguement and probably what the the powers be want to esatblish thro JPC.

from:  Narayanan
Posted on: Nov 15, 2011 at 10:35 IST

R.P.Singh perhaps veers around just the "Absolute Losses" digressing
from what "Presumptive Losses" represent. How could he dismiss the
possible future losses that could have been prevented, had the entire
issue of Spectrum Allocation been done on a more cleaner note!
Moreover, having been a very senior executive prior to retirement, he
could have categorically declined to affix his signature and gone to
the roof-top at that time itself, than making a shindy now.His entire
conduct smacks any logic unless he has some hidden agenda like he has
been assured of a Rajya Sabha Membership and the like.

from:  M.V.Muthu
Posted on: Nov 15, 2011 at 09:25 IST

To the citizen's of India this excercise is more of academic now. Whatsoever be the calculation (of loss) there is no one going to pay-in thus, it is imperative to find out how much money has been exchanged within political- official- middle man- and the licence beneficiaries and bring back, if possible, using all means. The higher or lower guess/ estimate of loss will not help even to guide this process; whereas we need sincere system & people to fix the corrupt past which is no means untrue!!!

from:  C Balasubramanian
Posted on: Nov 15, 2011 at 07:28 IST

Estimation errors are common in many situation. This is mainly becuase of the assumptions made and methodogy adopted under different scenario. Neither it is wrong nor it is right. The question is, whether there is huge loss or not? Obviously the huge profit gained by selling the services by the successful applicants to outdsiders are the loss to the exchequer. There is no point is wasting time on approximate estimates. Let them concentrate the key issues ..the huge loss and how the fraud was perpetuated and why the ruling party tried to cover it up? who are the master minds who are still at large?

from:  Dr Kannan
Posted on: Nov 15, 2011 at 07:22 IST
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