Partisan report

If anyone thought that the Joint Parliamentary Committee  (JPC) report on the allocation and pricing of telecom licences and 2G spectrum during the tenure of A  Raja in the UPA government would shed any useful  light on the decisions and their reasons and fix responsibility for the irregularities which were committed, there is only disappointment.

The report was submitted to the Lok Sabha Speaker by the JPC Chairman and Congress MP, P C Chacko, on Tuesday and is expected to be tabled in the House in the next session.

The official report gives only one version of the decisions the JPC was supposed to go into. Its  conclusions endorse all the positions that the Congress party and the government have taken on the controversy. It has blamed Raja for the irregularities and absolved Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram of any wrong-doing. Attorney-General G E Vahanvati, however, has not escaped blame. The report has also rejected the Comptroller and Auditor-General’s computation of the loss to the exchequer. 

What, however, weakens the conclusions and therefore the value of the report is that it  is only half a report. Twelve of the 30 members of the JPC have attached their dissenting notes, questioning  the conclusions and the procedures adopted by the committee. They are from all opposition parties including the BJP, CPM, CPI, DMK, the BJD and others. The dissenting notes have rejected all the inferences of the report and even claimed that all the documents which were necessary for an enquiry were not provided to the committee. This shows that the JPC was divided almost vertically along political lines and the conclusions would not carry much credibility with the people.

Joint Parliamentary committees are expected to rise above partisan considerations and to examine the issues before them in the light of national interest. An entire Parliament session was washed out over the demand to set up the JPC over the 2G scam. After over 157 hours of deliberations in 57 hearings which by themselves cost a huge sum to the exchequer, the nation is no nearer to the truth than it was in the beginning.  JPCs in the past also have failed to discharge their assigned responsibility. Their work has often been termed as cover-up exercises. The latest one has also invited similar charge. Unfortunately that only increases the cynicism about the working of Parliament and its ability to protect the nation’s interests.

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