Under fire for its controversial opinion on the alleged multi-crore 2G spectrum scam, the law ministry on Wednesday tried to defend the move by saying it had not put any bar on probing an act of wrongdoing.
The defence came after a strong attack from the BJP, which dubbed the spectrum scam “maha Bofors” and slammed the law ministry for its “pliable and convenient opinion” to the telecom ministry.
The legal arm of the government had come under fire for its opinion that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) “have no power to challenge policy decisions taken by the government”.
The opinion was sought by the department of telecom (DoT) on August 12 after it received an audit report from the CAG on the allocation of 2G spectrum, documents show.
“On going through the report, it is observed that the policy decisions of the government have been challenged in the CAG report,” the DoT wrote to the law ministry.
In a legal opinion, the ministry sent a seven-page response to the DoT within a day. “CAG, CVC and other watchdog no doubt play a very significant role in any democracy but they being constitutional/statutory functionaries can’t exceed the role assigned to them”.
Now the ministry says its opinion was general and academic in nature. “Nowhere in the entire seven-page opinion is there any mention of 2G spectrum. The opinion has merely reiterated the government’s stated position that policy decisions can’t be challenged, that is all,” said a top ministry official.
He denied the allegation that the law ministry was trying to hush up the 2G scam. “There cannot be any bar on probing any irregularity, financial or otherwise, which crops up in implementing any policy decision.”
Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, on tour in Singapore, was not available for comment.
The BJP was not convinced. Spokesperson Prakash Javadekar slammed Moily for hurriedly complying with a “fraudulent query” from the telecom ministry to bail out the minister, A. Raja, and the former secretary, P.J. Thomas, the new Chief Vigilance Commissioner.