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JPC will finalise draft report on 2G spectrum probe by July-end, says Chacko

G. Srinivasan New Delhi | Updated on May 10, 2011 Published on May 10, 2011

Mr P.C. Chacko

There is also a healthy precedent in Parliament that two Committees (JPC and PAC) do not take the same subject. As far as possible over-lapping of subjects should be avoided and this is the internal instructions given to the officers of Parliament of the Standing Committees.





As the alleged abuse of 2G spectrum allocations has been hogging the headlines with two Committees of Parliament, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) headed by senior Opposition party leader Dr Murli Manohar Joshi and the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) headed by Mr P.C. Chacko probing into the scam, Business Line caught up with Mr Chacko.

At the height of the 2G scam, there were disruptions of the proceedings of Parliament for several days on end with the Opposition unrelenting in its demand for a JPC even as the PAC has already been constituted.

Asked whether JPC recommendations would get implemented by the Government, Mr Chacko recalled that as a member of the JPC that went into the securities scam in the 1990s, many of the recommendations of that Committee such as Securities and Exchange Board of India and financial sector reforms were all implemented. So if the JPCs make worthwhile recommendation, it would be helpful to the Government, he said in a serious note.

Following are the excerpts from the interview:

“Our perception is that radio frequency spectrum is a very scare resource with the Government. It should not be decided or sold on a random basis. There has to be a spectrum audit — what is available with the Government and what is available for sale? How the pricing should be done? All these are important for the governments in future too and we will give clear-cut guidelines on allocation and pricing of spectrum and allied issues.

“At the beginning, the Government was not in favour of inquiry by the JPC. Subsequently, the general opinion developed was that JPC only can go into the wider question of 2G scam as other Committees going into this had their limitations. So, CBI inquiry was also on then. Enforcement Directorate inquiry was also on then. But the collective wisdom of Parliament was that in spite of all the inquiries going on there has to be a JPC with wider mandate.

“We had the first sitting on April 23 to discuss the modalities of our functioning. We have scheduled the next two sittings May 18 and 19 as the State Assembly polls intervened and a month was lost. After the two sittings in the third week of this month, we will have at least two sittings every week so that by the end of August or by the end of monsoon session, the Committee would have 40-45 sittings (in one day there would be two sittings in the morning and in the afternoon). At the end of July, we will finalise our draft report, taking evidence from the witnesses and perusing records.

“We have decided to discuss everything in the Committee such as who are to be called. We have decided that each member of the JPC can give a witness list and the record the member seeks so that anything that is needed, relevant and necessary to arrive at more facts would be available to the Committee. We have no pre-set opinion about calling somebody or not calling somebody.

“No doubt, there was a difference at the beginning when both PAC and JPC had to study the same issue as the two committees going into the same issue could come out with contradictory results. I discussed this in the first meeting of the JPC. There is also a healthy precedent in Parliament that two Committees do not take the same subject. As far as possible over-lapping of subjects should be avoided and this is the internal instructions given to the officers of Parliament of the Standing Committees.

“I raised the matter with the Lok Sabha Speaker in writing stating that this will probably set a wrong precedent which will be a problem for Speakers in future but she has probably decided that since they (PAC) have done some work and that both the Committees would work in an amicable atmosphere. But two committees' approach and functioning are different. PAC examined the financial losses raised by the CAG on 2G spectrum allocation and not on policy. Hence as long as we are working together (all members of JPC), we have decided not to make any reference to any other Committee.”

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Published on May 10, 2011
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