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JPC meet turns into auditors' battlefield

delhi Updated: Nov 16, 2011 01:30 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji

The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum allocation has turned into a battleground between auditors. On Tuesday, CAG Vinod Rai stuck to his presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore and rubbished former auditor RP Singh's claim that he had to sign the final CAG report under pressure.

Rai dismissed allegations that Singh had not been in agreement with the final report that escalated the upper limit of the presumptive loss at Rs 1.76 lakh crore. He also said out of the three presumptive figures in his final report two were taken from Singh's draft report.

"The person spent 35 years in the service. Are we to believe, seven months before retirement, he didn't know how to give a note of dissent?" Rai reportedly said about Singh. The CAG will be asked to depose again before the panel in its next meeting.

Extensively grilled by Congress members, including Manish Tewari, Rai at one point almost lost his cool and retorted, "Are you challenging my authority as CAG?"

Former Director General, Audit (Post and Telecommunication) RP Singh, on Monday appeared before the JPC and claimed that 2G loss cannot be quantified.

He also defended his initial estimate of loss at Rs 2,645 crore and said presumptive loss estimate in the final report would amount to "individual judgment" in the audit exercise.

Rai, who appeared before the JPC along with Deputy CAG Rekha Gupta, insisted that Singh was consulted at every step of preparing the report.

Tewari pointed out to an internal note by Gupta, which said Singh was to be shown only the last page of the report and be asked to sign.

While the Congress members accused the auditor-general of cherry-picking figures to fit his report, Rai reportedly said, "As the CAG I have the right to decide which figure I should take." Rai also faced allegations of shifting the goalposts of the audit midway.

CPM's Sitaram Yechury asked why the CAG didn't probe the spectrum allocation before 2004. Rai replied that they had sought documents but it was not provided.