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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

JPC gives clean chit to PM, FM in 2G case

PTI  New Delhi, September 27, 2013
First Published: 16:32 IST(27/9/2013) | Last Updated: 03:01 IST(28/9/2013)

Government on Friday managed to have its way in the Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G scam when the panel approved the draft report giving a clean chit to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P Chidambaram with a 16-11 vote in its favour.

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Outside allies BSP (2) and SP (one), voted with 14 others of the ruling coalition to approve the report that accused former telecom minister A Raja of "misleading" the Prime Minister and "belying" the assurances given to him.

JPC chairman PC Chacko told reporters after the meeting that all those who voted against the draft report would be given 15 days to file their dissent report.

Of the total 30 members in the committee, three members, including one from BJP, were absent.  Of the 27 present, the ruling side got the votes of Congress (11), NCP (one), BSP (2), SP (1) and nominated member Ashok Ganguly.

Attacking the outcome, BJP leader and member of the committee Yashwant Sinha said a contrived majority has been "unashamedly" used to adopt a report based on "wrong facts, falsehood and prejudicial" findings without the consideration of the Committee.

The Opposition votes were made up of BJP's 5 and one each of BJD, TMC, CPI, CPI(M), AIADMK and DMK.

The draft report of the JPC also rubbishes the loss figure of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore estimated by CAG, saying it was "ill-conceived".

The report, which was circulated among members in April also accuses Raja of forging the press note of January 7, 2008 after it was seen by the then Solicitor General GE Vahanvati.

"The Committee wish to point out that the procedure" regarding the First-Come-First-Served (FCFS) criteria was a "misrepresentation of facts and in tactic deviation from the existing procedure," it says.

While giving sequence of events leading to allocation of 2G spectrum, the report says, "the Committee are inclined to conclude that the Prime Minister was misled about the procedure decided to be followed by the Department of Telecommunications in respect of issuance of UAS licences.

"Further, the assurance given by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology (Raja) in all his correspondence with the Prime Minister to maintain full transparency in following  established rules and procedures of the department stood belied."

The report was critical of the decision taken by the then NDA government to grant concessions to telecom operators over non-recovery of "huge amount" of licence fee despite opposition by then Telecom Minister Jagmohan.

The report also concludes that the NDA government had to "forego" revenue to the tune of Rs. 42,080.34 crore while offering migration package to cellular operators.

"A perusal of the note initiated by the then minister of communications (Jagmohan) revealed that he was in complete disagreement with the representations made by the operators, who demanded a moratorium on payment of licence fee for two years and extension of period of licence from 10 to 15 years," the draft report said.

Jagmohan was of the view that "there was no legal, financial, commercial or moral justification for agreeing to the representation made by the operators."

The report, which has come under fire from the BJP, said he strongly favoured the option to recover all the outstanding dues from the operators.

Jagmohan had drawn the attention of the then finance minister Yashwant Sinha on the issue of non-recovery of licence fee on December 21, 1998.

In his communication dated December 24, 1998, the finance minister, while sharing his concern over non-recovery of huge amount of licence fee, mentioned that such non-recovery would add to the budget deficit of Rs. 2,800 crore in the relevant year's Budget, the draft said.


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