JPC-PAC turf war: Chacko to complain to Lok Sabha Speaker

JPC-PAC turf war: Chacko to complain to Lok Sabha Speaker

Chacko also indicated that upto eight of the 30-member JPC could be having conflict of interest on account of having been union ministers between 1998 and 2008, a period under scrutiny for framing and implementation of the telecom policy.

The JPC, which held its first meeting today, discussed questions like whether the PAC, a Committee of Parliament, was holding a parallel inquiry and if there was any conflict of interest because of inclusion of some members besides the schedule of meetings.

"There is no clash of interest, but parliamentary propriety is that the PAC should not (look into telecom policy issues)", said Chacko, while noting that JPC has been constituted to look into the issue of policy in telecom sector as per the terms of reference.

Insisting that PAC should not be concerned with questions of policy but can only look into "extravagance in implementation of the policy", he said JPC members, who are also part of the PAC, shared similar views.

"I would meet the Speaker to discuss the matter (of parallel probes)," the Congress leader said.

Asked whether he would also meet Joshi, he said he would request the Speaker to call him to discuss the issue.

Members of the committee were "unanimous" that parallel probe by two committees of Parliament inquiring into the same issue was "avoidable" and "not good" as "the final reports (of the two committees) could be same and could also differ", Chacko told a press conference after the meeting.

Joshi, on the other hand, was unrelenting as he told a separate press conference that PAC's powers went beyond the CAG report and overlapping could not be ruled out.
"There cannot just be overlapping but several overlaps (on the 2-G spectrum scam).

There can be overlapping with JPC. There can be overlapping with the Supreme Court. There can be overlapping with the CBI probe," he said when asked about overlapping between the works of PAC and JPC.

Maintaining that the PAC has a "constitutional mandate", the BJP leader read out the Terms of Reference of his committee and said it has to satisfy that the "moneys shown in the accounts as having been disbursed were legally available for, and applicable to, the service or purpose to which they been applied or charged."

He said the PAC will also check if the "expenditure conforms to the authority which governs it" although he avoided a direct reply to queries on whether he felt JPC has more and wide-ranging powers.

"I (PAC) am a perpetual body. PAC will be there whether JPC is there or not," Joshi said, adding that the PAC has been investigating the matter even before formation of the JPC.

The BJP leader maintained that before him the 2-G spectrum issue was being looked into by the PAC even under the chairpersonship of his predecessors Jaswant Singh and Gopinath Munde.

"We are doing our duty. We are doing our constitutional as well as our moral duty," he said.

Chacko also said the names of "seven to eight" former Union Ministers, including members of Group of Ministers (GoM) who were part of decision-making in telecom sector between 1998-2008 would be referred to the Lok Sabha Speaker to decide whether their presence in the JPC constituted a clash of interests.

He did not name them. However, questions have already been raised over the inclusion of BJP leaders Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Harin Pathak, who have served as ministers in NDA government.

As per rules, only the Speaker can take a decision on the issue and not the JPC, the JPC chief said.

Asked whether names of certain MPs who have represented telecom companies in courts would be referred to the Speaker, he replied in an affirmative.

In reply to a question, Chacko said he was "not telling the PAC on what they should do" as it was a constitutional body authorised to go into the CAG findings.

He dubbed as "extended logic" the reported remarks of Joshi that the PAC can always look into a policy if it was devised in a way which led to losses. "That is an extended logic. Good. I am not denying that," he said.

When pointed out that the Committee on Public Undertakings and Standing Committee on Civil Aviation had come out with similar reports on the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines, he said the JPC was not taking that precedence. "We are taking other healthy precedence," he said.