Editors of two news weeklies Vinod Mehta and Manu Joseph on Monday gave evidence before the public accounts committee (PAC) on the 2G spectrum controversy even as JD-U’s NK Singh recused himself from the panel’s proceedings because his conversation had figured in the Radia tapes.
Mehta and Joseph, who edit Outlook and Open Magazine respectively, had carried transcripts of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia’s conversations with some prominent personalities, including journalists, on the issue and the effort to make A Raja return as telecom minister in 2009.
“It was clear from the evidence that the editors had no intention to target any person in particular. They had done their journalistic duty,’’ said PAC chairman M M Joshi. The panel had on an earlier occasion heard Pioneer’s J Gopikrishnan who had exposed the scam. “The three journalists ... have answered all questions candidly. Their objectivity and impartiality was obvious,’’ said Joshi.
He sidestepped all questions on whether the PAC would call the scribes who figure in the tapes. But one “corollary’’ of the appearance of the two editors is that they may be called if there is a consensus in the panel.
According to Joshi, the panel also has not yet decided whether to call PM Manmohan Singh.
But sources indicated that cabinet secretary KM Chandrashekhar and principal secretary TKA Nair may be asked to appear before the PAC, which is due for reconstitution before it term ends in April.
Unlike the JPC, which has been asked to give its report on the telecom issue by the end of the monsoon session, the PAC does not have a time frame to complete its report.
Mehta and Joseph refused to speak, saying they were under oath. “It was definitely not grilling by the PAC,’’ said Joseph. Mehta praised Joshi for being “very thorough’’ and doing his homework. “He asked good questions,’’ he said.