The Supreme Court has said that it would monitor the CBI probe into the 2G scam. The Congress camp seems to be pleased with this. Even Kanimozhi is visibly elated to know that the CBI is going to look into the scam. The only politician who will be disturbed to know this is not a BJP-ian but a DMK person – Dayanaidhi Maran. It was in his tenure the basis for the scientific execution of the scam was laid. But then he too need not worry much if he makes things alright before the CBI zeros in on him. There is enough time to pull things under the carpet. After all the CBI is going after the money trail – that is what makes people – including Kanimozhi, happy.
Certainly these politicians would not have taken money by their hand or in their name. There are a number of others who would do that for them. At the moment A.Raja is the centre of attention. He will be made the sacrificial goat so that all the others can live happily! Only if someone enquires into the scam- angle and raises some uncomfortable questions such as why the PM sat as a mute spectator, why the law ministry did not stop the scandal, why the PA-s of Rajathi Ammal and Kanimozhi bought and sold the land between themselves, our politicians would become jittery. As long as CBI is in the job, they need not be worried. That is the reason why they welcome the CBI but not the JPC.
Cartoon courtesy :- Sudhir Tailang
The following article written by Mr S. Pushpavanam, the Secretary of the Consumer Protection Council of Tamilnadu is an eye opener for why the Congress is afraid of facing the JPC.
I think it is the citizen’s right to ask for JPC to fix the responsibility for the happenings that are eroding the value system.
Why is Congress afraid of JPC into spectrum scam
S Pushpavanam, Secretary,
Consumer Protection Council, Tamilnadu.
First Published :
07 Dec 2010 12:08:00 AM IST
Last Updated :
08 Dec 2010 12:24:02 AM IST
If one understands the powers and functions of the Joint Parliamentary Committee and those of the Public Accounts Committee, then one can sense why the Congress is keen on avoiding JPC at any cost, even to the extent of inviting a vote of no-confidence. The Government of India Act 1935 for the first time provided for an Auditor-General to ensure regularity and economy in the administration of public finance. By T T Krishnamachari’s amendment in the Constituent Assembly Auditor-General became Comptroller and Auditor General, and to be appointed by the President with the rank of the Chief Justice of Supreme court. While it was for the Legislature to sanction and for the Executive to spend the money, the CAG had to scrutinise that the money was properly spent.
The PAC set up by the Parliament would consider his reports on the appropriation accounts and CAG or his representative would attend all their meetings and guide their deliberations. The function of the PAC is to see whether CAG has done his job properly and nothing more than that. It cannot on its own investigate the points mentioned or act as a court to demand evidence, cross-examine or order deletion in the report or order modification.
The PAC consists of 22 members,15 from the Lok Sabha elected from among its members according to proportional representation and 7 from the Rajya Sabha. It is constituted each year and it is to examine the appropriation accounts relating to several government departments and the CAG reports on ministries and revenue receipts. Besides its usual auditing duties, it examines cases involving losses, nugatory (futile) expenditure and financial irregularities. And can make recommendations to check leakage of revenue.
What happens after PAC scrutinises?
PAC sends its recommendation to the government. The government submits action taken notes to the committee. The Committee then presents Action Taken Report to the government. The government presents Action Taken Statement in Parliament. Normally all the recommendations of the PAC are implemented by the government.
But it has no power to investigate a scam.
The Joint Parliamentary Committee on the other hand is a post-independent creation. For the first time a JPC was appointed for the investigation of a scandal (Bofors) in 1987. The opposition was consulted (Rajiv had 420 seats out of 523 then) and in response to a demand the Joint Committee was appointed.
The government said, “The government has nothing to hide. The government wants to get at the truth. And that is why the committee has been set up.”
If the government is not willing to set up a committee now, the obvious inference could be drawn.
Going by the precedent of 1987 JPC, let us consider the powers, composition and functions of the Joint Parliamentary Committee.
It may consist of 50 members, 30 from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha to be elected on the basis of proportional representation.
a) The Committee would enquire whether the procedures laid down (in this case, for the allocation of spectrum) were followed, objections were considered and replied, any out of turn allotment was done, the advancing of the last date was bona fide and whether anyone unduly benefited
b) The committee would consider in depth the report of the CAG and the Action Taken Report of the Public Accounts Committee
c) The committee would scrutinise the loss to the exchequer and ways to recover the amount;
d) The committee would identify the persons involved in the whole process and scrutinise the bidding companies, their share holders, their experience and their financial transactions;
e) The committee would also determine the laws, rules and regulations violated in the process of allocation of spectrum and licence and gather evidence on misuse of power, and other criminal conduct
f) The Comptroller and Auditor General and Attorney General would provide assistance to the committee.
g) All investigative agencies would provide assistance to the committee
h) The committee shall have the powers to send for persons, papers and records. If there is any objection, the Speaker’s decision shall be final,
i) Members will be allowed to question one by one any witness, who will be on oath. Verbatim record of proceedings will be made available to members. Members may suggest witnesses. All documents would be studied by members before the witnesses are called. Evidence given would be made public unless there is a strong reason not to do so.
j) The committee would have powers to ask for and receive evidence, oral or documentary from foreign nationals or agencies. (The beneficiaries of this scam residing abroad could be summoned and interrogated and foreign governments and intelligence agencies could help.)
k) A sub-committee of the committee may visit a foreign country for specified purpose connected with the enquiry.
The only thing common between JPC and PAC is the consideration of CAG report.
Whoever is interested in unraveling the scam, punishing the scamsters and recouping the loss would demand a JPC.
Why, then, should our intelligent home minister say,
“It is meaningless to demand a JPC when there is a PAC?”
It is simple.
He is supremely confident that you would not know the difference!