In a last minute damage control exercise on the 2G spectrum scam, the government is set to ignore the legal opinion cited by the telecom ministry that the CAG and CVC did not have the powers to challenge any policy decision.
Faced with an unrelenting united opposition during the winter session, which is demanding the scalp of telecom minister A Raja, the Centre does not want to open a new front by rubbing the Comptroller and Auditor General, the wrong way.
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is learnt to have signaled to the the law ministry to exercise restraint in the matter.
The Department of Telecom had sought the law ministry's opinion on August 12 on whether the "constitution and rules" permitted the CAG to challenge policy decisions. The move had followed the CAG's queries to the department on the R1.40 lakh crore scam.
The law ministry had sought to curtail the powers of the CAG and the Central Vigilance Commission. "The CAG, CVC and other watchdogs, being constitutional functionaries cannot exceed the role assigned to them …they have no power to challenge policy decisions," said the law ministry opinion.
With political temperatures running high, a UPA functionary sought to sidestep the issue. "The government respects the constitutional authorities and their powers," he said.
"It is the duty of the government to table the CAG reports in Parliament, only then the issue of whether to accept or reject the report arises. There can't be a preemptive action," he said.
The auditor has been upset with the ministry on the issue. CAG Vinod Rai had also lodged a protest with the PMO against law minister M Veerappa Moily's remarks in September that "the CAG had not fulfilled constitutional expectations" and "conducted post mortems only when the patient was dead."
In his explanation, Moily wrote he had no intention to "either indict or belittle" the CAG. "The CAG should look beyond its restricted area of operation and that there is a need for some reforms in such institutions."