The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) decided to summon former attorney general Soli Sorabjee as it began its two-day meeting on Wednesday by digging up the dirt on the telecom policy pursued during the NDA regime.
The cabinet's approval of the migration package from fixed licence fee to revenue-sharing was based on the advice given by the attorney general in 1999 and had caused a loss to the public exchequer, it said.
The panel directed department of telecom officials Ashok Chandra and T K Vardakrishan to compute and report on the quantum of losses incurred from the migration package and concessions to telecom operators during that period.
In doing so, the JPC went by the CAG's report in 2000 which alleged the losses but did not put a figure to it as the details were not available. “Since the figures are available now, the committee directed the telecom secretary to quantify the losses,” said P C Chacko, JPC chairman.
The 30-member JPC, which went into the telecom policy, allocation of spectrum and its pricing between 1998 and 2008, also asked telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar to provide all information regarding the number of licences issued since the national telecom policy was framed in 1994, those rejected and the reasons for rejection.
Reacting to queries, Chacko denied that the probe into the NDA period led to some exchanges between members. “There was no division on party lines,” he claimed.
However, sources said charges of a cover-up during the NDA regime were levelled and how the then government had based its decision on a migration package on inputs from private bankers. The panel, however, will not seek the PAC documents as it has sufficient matter.
The JPC will hear the TRAI chief on Thursday and CAG Vinod Rai on May 30. The panel is expected to meet also on May 31 and perhaps also on June 1.