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PAC unlikely to call PM, but top babus to testify

Posted by on April 8, 2011 0 Comment

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is unlikely to be called to testify by the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, but it has summoned Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar, Prime Minister’s principal secretary T.K.A. Nair, attorney-general Goolam E. Vahanvati, CBI director A.P. Singh and law secretary D.R. Meena to depose before it on April 15-16 on 2G spectrum allocations.

The PAC, headed by Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, is expected to present its report in the Monsoon Session of Parliament, which is likely to begin in early July. The PAC has already begun the process of filing its report on the 2G spectrum case.

Mr Vahanvati, Mr Singh and Mr Meena have been asked to present themselves before the PAC on April 15, while Mr Chandrasekhar and Mr Nair will appear the next day, PAC sources said. The committee is likely to scrutinise the role of the Prime Minister’s Office in the controversial allocation of 2G spectrum in 2008. The April 15-16 sessions could be the last hearings by the PAC.

The new PAC, in which Dr Joshi will continue to as chairman, will take over on May 1, and is expected to carry on the probe into anomalies in 2G spectrum allocation.

Mr Chandrasekhar and Mr Nair are likely to be questioned on communications between the finance ministry, department of telecom and the PMO on allocation of 2G spectrum.

“After listening to the views of then finance secretary (Duvvuri Subbarao, now RBI governor), it is necessary to get the views of the Cabinet Secretary and the Prime Minister’s principal secretary,” the sources said. Mr Subbarao, who was finance secretary when the 2G spectrum allocations were made in January 2008, had appeared before the PAC on February 3.

In an affidavit in the Supreme Court, the government said that on the issue of 2G spectrum allocations, the finance secretary had raised certain queries on November 27, 2007 regarding the entry fee. A reply to this was given by the telecom secretary on November 29, 2007.

Sources said the two top officials could also be asked questions based on the Prime Minister’s recent statement that the finance ministry and the department of telecom had concurred on the issue.

Mr Vahanvati is likely to be asked about legal opinions he may have given to the department of telecom when he was solicitor-general in the UPA-1 government. He has been made a witness by the CBI in its chargesheet filed before the special court in the scam.

The CBI director has been asked to appear before the PAC for the second time. He also had a one-to-one meeting with Dr Joshi some time back.

Meanwhile, the joint parliamentary committee headed by Mr P.C. Chacko, which is examining telecom policies on the grant of licences and spectrum, on Thursday invited views and suggestions from the public, various stakeholders, experts and organisations on the subject within two weeks.

The JPC also asked those willing to appear before it to specifically indicate that, while clarifying that the committee’s decision on this would be final. Those who so wished could submit memoranda — sending two copies either in English or in Hindi — within two weeks, a JPC statement said.

These should be strictly in accordance with the committee’s terms of reference, and should be sent in a sealed cover to the Director (TLS), Lok Sabha Secretariat, Room No. 004, Basement, Parliament House Annexe, New Delhi 110 001. It can also be faxed to the number +91-11-23093919, or emailed to jpctls-lss@sansad.nic.in. All submissions would be part of the committee’s records and treated as strictly confidential.

The 30-member JPC, which first met on March 24, is due to hold its next meeting on May 18. Asian Age

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