PAC summons Niira Radia, Ratan Tata

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), headed by Murli Manohar Joshi, has summoned corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata for questioning on April 4 on purported irregularities in the grant of telecom licences.

The PAC has also asked representatives of Swan Telecom, Reliance, Airtel and Unitech to appear before it.

A Tata spokesperson said Mr. Ratan Tata had expressed his willingness to appear before the PAC on April 4.

A 30-member Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), under the chairmanship of P.C. Chacko, mandated to look into the telecom policy from 1998 to 2009, had its first meeting on March 24.

Ms. Radia, who runs a public relations agency to promote the interests of several corporate houses with interest in telecom, including the Tata Group, shot into fame after the publication of leaked tapes of her telephone conversations with politicians, industrialists, bureaucrats and journalists.

The conversations were taped by the Income-Tax Department in 2008-09 as part of investigations into the operations of her firm. Select portions of the tapes came into public domain after they were leaked by unidentified persons.

The PAC, which has been enquiring into alleged irregularities in the grant of telecom licences, earlier this month, summoned the Editors of Outlook and Open magazines, Vinod Mehta and Manu Joseph, respectively. The magazines had published parts of the Radia tapes.

Dr. Joshi had told the media that the two informed the PAC that they had verified the authenticity of the tapes before publishing them and that the tapes were published as they were, with no additions or deletions.

“No motive”

There was no motive behind publishing the transcripts but it was a pure act of journalistic duty with the purpose of giving information to readers, they told the PAC.

Among other things, the leaked tapes had thrown light on attempts made by Ms. Radia to get Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader A. Raja the job of Telecom Minister, after the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) won the Lok Sabha elections in May 2009.

Tata's petition

Mr. Tata, who figures in some of the conversations of the leaked tapes, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court on the ground that they violated his right to privacy and urged the apex court to direct the Centre to probe the leak.

Tata Teleservices, along with other telecom companies, is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.

The PAC, which is looking into the report of the CAG on issuance of telecom licences, has received objections to the findings of the CAG from corporate entities such as Uninor, Reliance and Tata. The CAG had pegged the presumptive loss on account of allocation of telecom licences at Rs. 1.7 lakh crore.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2021 2:17:59 AM |

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