JPC on 2G scam may not call ministers as witnesses

The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) is all set to wrap up its examination of the 2G scam without summoning as witnesses the key persons involved, including ministers. The committee has decided to focus on writing the draft report.

The 30-member JPC, set up in March 2011, will have its last hearing on February 12, when CBI Director Ranjit Sinha and Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar are expected to appear as witnesses.

Ruling out calling any ministers, including Finance Minister P Chidambaram and former telecom minister A Raja, JPC Chairman P C Chacko on Tuesday told reporters: “We will wrap up evidence gathering and start preparing the draft of the report.” He added that the committee wanted to submit the report to Parliament by March 31 so that it could be discussed during the second half of the Budget session.

Claiming that there was no unanimity among the members on summoning ministers, Chacko said: “We do not intend to call anybody to play to the galleries.” Earlier, when a panel had prepared a long list of witnesses, including ministers, lobbyists and corporate honchos, it was decided that a questionnaire will be sent to some of the witnesses. But the plan was shelved.

The BJP members had also boycotted the JPC proceedings after their demand to summon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was shot down by Chacko. He had said the demand to summon Finance Minister P Chidambaram could be met only if the committee agreed on the issue unanimously.

When asked why the panel did not call Raja despite his willingness to appear before the committee, Chacko said: “The committee will not function to fulfil somebody’s wishes.”

Meanwhile, Attorney General G E Vahanvati, appearing before the panel on Tuesday, said the controversial press note regarding the 2G licences was changed at the last minute by Raja in 2008. Vahanvati was the solicitor general then. Vahanvati also told the committee that changes in the first-come, first-serve policy were never discussed with him and he had nothing to do with the 2G spectrum licences.

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