JPC for joint partners in crime

This time round, the issue of setting up of the JPC to probe the 2G spectrum scam has turned a little ticklish for the UPA-II with Supreme Court throwing the ball of accountability in the court of the Prime Minister. This apart, Tamil Nadu Assembly polls due next year may feel the impact of the JPC deliberations, expected to stretch over a few months.

In their earliest incarnations, the JPC used to look into the ways to improve functioning of the Parliament but as the Republic increasingly got mired in corruption scandals, the political demand for investigative JPCs increased. 

There have been four investigative JPCs so far.

*The first was instituted to inquire into the Bofors guns contract on a motion moved by then Defence Minister K C Pant in the Lok Sabha on August 6, 1987. The committee, headed by Congress leader B Shankaranand, held 50 sittings and gave its report on April 26, 1988. It blamed none and extended a clean chit to all “accused.”  The JPC set up by the Congress dispensation was described as a an eyewash by the opposition which boycotted it.

*The second JPC was constituted  in August, 1992 during P V Narasimha Rao’s government to probe the multi-thousand crore Mumbai stock scam also known as securities scam. The committee, presided over by former union minister and Congress leader Ram Niwas Mirdha, gave its report on December 21, 1993. The report led to changes in the Banking system and transfer of securities. Though it tried to bring all-round systemic reform to plug loopholes in the banking system, many criticised its recommendations. Some of the members who participated in the deliberations gave their separate “dissent note”.

*The third JPC was constituted in April 2001 which deliberated into the market scam.  BJP member Lt Gen Prakash Mani Tripathi (retd) was the chairman. The issue of the suspension of redemption from US 64 fund by the Unit Trust of India was also referred to it. The committee held 105 sittings and gave its report on December 19, 2002. Corrective steps were recommended.

*The last JPC was set up in August 2003 to look into harmful pesticide residue in soft drink, fruit juices and other beverages, and their safety standards. The committee held 17 sittings and submitted its report to Parliament on February 4, 2004. It was chaired by NCP leader Sharad Pawar. It led to creation of Food safety and standard authority of India.

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