The unrelenting combined opposition may have kept both Parliament paralysed demanding formation of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the 2G spectrum scam, but four such previous investigative committees during last 25 years failed to yield tangible results.
Past experience points to a systemic flaw that renders the JPC toothless. “No mechanism exists for enabling Parliament to monitor or supervise the action taken on recommendations made in the final JPC report,” constitutional experts say.
The first JPC was instituted on August 6, 1987, to look into the highly publicised Bofors gun deal after the opposition parties persisted with their demand for 45 days.
Surprisingly, around nine months later, it was the opposition only, which rejected the JPC report submitted to parliament on April 26, 1988, according to details provided by the PRS Legislative Research.
The opposition grouse was that the committee did not indict the then Congress government headed by the late Rajiv Gandhi.
“In my view the government will not lose anything in case it agrees for the formation of a JPC, since given the past experience the opposition is unlikely to get anything out of it,” opined noted constitutional expert, Subhash C Kashyap.
“The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is also like a JPC and the advantage for the opposition is that it is headed by a BJP leader. The JPC will be headed by a Congress leader by virtue of their strength in both houses of parliament,” stated Kashyap, a former Lok Sabha secretary general.
Opposition parties argue that the JPC is dedicated to a particular subject under scrutiny. By parliamentary convention, it is more acceptable for a JPC to summon anyone, including serving ministers.
“Governments may have not acted on JPC reports in the past, but do not forget that the JPC formed following the Harshad Mehta episode in 1992 led to banking regulations which are working till now,” said senior CPI (M) leader, Sitaram Yechury.