The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) investigating the 2G spectrum scam has decided to call the former CAG official, R.P. Singh, back as a witness in view of his recent statements to the media being in contradiction with his statement to the JPC under oath.
The demand for Mr. Singh to be called back was made by CPI Leader Gurudas Dasgupta and backed by BJP members in the JPC Yashwant Sinha and Ravi Shankar Prasad.
The decision was taken despite JPC Chairman and Congress MP P.C. Chacko having stated to the media in the past as well as in Wednesday’s meeting that Mr. Singh’s statements to the media and to the JPC were identical.
Mr. Dasgupta and Mr. Sinha had submitted letters to Mr. Chacko prior to Wednesday’s JPC meeting, asking for Mr. Singh to be called back.
Mr. Singh recently alleged he was forced to sign the CAG’s 2G report, dismissing the loss figures, including the Rs. 1.76 lakh crore loss estimate, as presumptive. He also stated that Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi tried to “influence” the CAG report.
It is learnt that a demand was also made to call back CAG Vinod Rai, though the decision was not finalised.
The demand to bring in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a witness was also made again, though as usual, no decision was taken.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) is learnt to have told JPC members that the 2008 allocation of spectrum had led to a loss of Rs. 30,000 crore on account of award of GSM spectrum to dual technology operators.
They pointed out that since some operators had not rolled out operations, they had hoarded the spectrum. They further stated that the 2008 award of spectrum did not lead to any tangible increase in teledensity.
This busts the government’s and ex-Telecom Minister A. Raja’s claim that spectrum had to be awarded at 2001 prices in order to increase teledensity.
The JPC will question the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) at its next meeting on December 19.