Heed the request

The request of former Union telecom minister A Raja to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) inquiring into the telecom scam to be allowed  to appear before it as a witness should not be dismissed as a dilatory or pressure tactic. Raja is the prime accused in the 2G spectrum allocation scandal and he is facing trial in the case for taking decisions, with the help of senior officials, which caused a huge loss to the national exchequer. Serious charges of corruption have been levelled against him. The JPC was constituted to find out the whole truth about the scam and to fix responsibility for the wrong decisions. It is important that Raja’s version of the matter should be considered by the committee before it reaches conclusions on the issues before it. The fact that he is an accused does not make his request wrong. On the contrary it is only fair and natural that he be given a chance to present his side of the case.

Raja has said that the evidence presented to the committee by some officials and the then solicitor general Ghoolam Vahanvati was contrary to facts. He feels that there is an attempt to shift the blame and that the JPC should not be misguided by false and incomplete evidence. If Raja wants to highlight the roles of all individuals and institutions which were involved in decision-making, he should not be barred from doing so. He has criticised all agencies like the media, the courts and the Comptroller and  Auditor-General (CAG)  which handled the issue in their different ways. The accused is free to have his views but it is for the inquiry to assess the decisions, actions and facts relevant to the matter and form a  complete picture.

Raja’s credibility is low and he may have his own reasons for offering to depose before the JPC as a witness. But some members of the JPC have also made the demand, and this was before Raja made the request. The committee is nearing the end of its work and is expected to finalise its report soon. It should not invite the charge that it reached its conclusions without giving an opportunity, on technical or other grounds, to the main player in the scam to appear before it.

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