Murli Manohar Joshi, the senior BJP leader who heads the PAC, reiterated on Monday that the committee will go ahead with its work because “it has the mandate to investigate any scam”.
“The PAC has been investigating (the 2-G Spectrum scam) and nobody has stopped it. It will continue with the investigations, which it has been doing since June,” he said.
Later in the day, the PAC sent the telecom ministry a volley of questions, including why the views of the finance ministry, law ministry and even the PM were ignored when taking decisions on allocation of spectrum in 2008.
The questionnaire comes in the wake of a strong demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum issue, over which Parliament has been stalled for the last three weeks.
At Parliament, Joshi said, “the PAC…has a constitutional mandate. We have been appointed by Parliament under a constitutional obligation to chase the rupee. The rupee, which has been stolen, belongs to the taxpayers.”
Asked if a PAC was better than JPC, he said: “Everything is good or bad depending upon how it works…It all depends upon the mood of the House, which is to have a JPC.”
But his party colleague SS Ahluwalia, batting for a JPC probe, held that for a JPC, unlike the PAC, “all classified files become declassified and it can access the file notings”.
Even UPA allies, he said, are in favour of a JPC. “TR Baalu (DMK) has said so and Mamata Banerjee (TMC) and Sharad Pawar (NCP) are also saying the same thing.”
In the eight-page questionnaire, the PAC has questioned the telecom department on why it did not adhere to the PM’s advice in November 2007 to reconsider the price discovered in 2001. “Is it justified to allocate spectrum to a few new operators in 2008 without reconsidering the old entry fee discovered in 2001 and ignoring the advice of the PM?”
It also asked the department to calculate the presumptive loss to the exchequer on account of grant of 157 licences without auctioning the 2G spectrum.
The PAC has questioned the process followed by the DoT for verification of applications and asked them what punitive action it proposes to take against the companies who suppressed facts to bag licences.
(With PTI inputs)