PAC vs JPC: 2G spectrum probe turf war intensifies

March 24th, 2011 - 10:04 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 24 (IANS) The turf war over the 2G scam inquiry has intensified with the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) headed by Congress’ P.C. Chacko saying the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) led by BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi should confine its probe to the government auditor’s accounting report and not encroach on examining policy matters.

“We are writing to the speaker. The PAC, as a matter or rule, is not concerned with the question of the (government) policy. It has to look into the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) report on expenses and extravagance, overspending or wastage of public money,” Chacko told reporters after the first meeting the JPC was held at the Parliament Annexe.

The JPC was formed earlier this month by parliament to look into alleged irregularities in grant of telecom licences and the telecom policy from 1998. But the PAC had already taken up the investigation into the allotment of second generation telephony spectrum allegedly at throw away prices by A. Raja, now in jail, during his tenure as IT and communication minister in 2008.

The alleged wrongdoing was pointed out by the CAG last year in its report to parliament. The PAC has the mandate to look into CAG reports but Joshi has been maintaining that the panel can widen its examination and look into government policies and their implementation.

Chacko said the issue was discussed in the meeting and the members “unanimously” recommended that the issue of overlap with the PC should be referred to the speaker.

He however said there was “no clash of interest” between the JPC and PAC.

“There is no conflict as such. PAC has seized up the matter much before the JPC was formed. But they are also going into policy matters and its implementation. Two parliamentary committees inquiring the same issue, that is to be avoided,” Chacko said, adding if the two committees submit contradictory findings that would create a difficult situation.

He said he would request the speaker to call PAC head Joshi for a joint meeting with him.

“We are not telling PAC what they should be doing. But there is a parliamentary impropriety and we want to point out to the PAC,” Chacko said.

He said the panel in its first meeting also discussed the “conflict of interest, if any” with those members who have been telecom ministers or part of the group of ministers related to the telecom policy.

Chacko said this issue would be taken up with the speaker for her opinion.

He didn’t name the JPC members but was obviously referring to BJP’s Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Haren Pathak and Ravi Shankar Prasad, DMK’s T.R. Baalu, Janata Dal-United’s Sharad Yadav.

He said the committee would also write to the speaker to see if there was any conflict of interest with advocate MPs who are now members of the panel. This was in reference to Congress’ Manish Tewari

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