PAC chief says panel has powers to summon PM on demonetisation | india-news | Hindustan Times
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PAC chief says panel has powers to summon PM on demonetisation

“We have powers to summon anyone... Even the Prime Minister and the ministers... that question will come later only. Not now.”

india Updated: Jan 10, 2017 01:03 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Public Accounts Committee
People waiting to exchange demonetised Indian currency, make enquiries at the closed gates of Reserve Bank of India in Bangalore on January 2.(AFP Photo)

Chairman of the Parliament’s audit watchdog Public Accounts Committee (PAC) — which is reviewing demonetisation — on Monday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi can be called before the panel if all members agree.

While KV Thomas clarified there was no immediate plan to seek Modi’s personal explanation — which would be an unprecedented step — he also underlined the panel has the authority to summon “any person, even the PM.”

“We have powers to summon anyone... Even the Prime Minister and the ministers... that question will come later only. Not now.”

It, however, is highly unlikely as pro-NDA members have a majority in the panel. “This is not a joke,” said a pro-NDA MP.

Another MP said, “If the panel requires any comment from the PMO, it can, at best, send written questions.”

Talking to reporters in Kochi, Thomas said, “We have powers to summon anyone... Even the Prime Minister and the ministers... that question will come later only. Not now.” Thomas’ remarks raised the memories of UPA rule when BJP’s Murali Manohar Joshi-led PAC wanted to summon the then PM Manmohan Singh. The plan led to an ugly face off between BJP and the UPA lawmakers. Joshi was finally unable to submit the report.

Thomas, however, said the PAC is waiting for the RBI and the finance ministry to submit their reports. He said the panel has asked RBI Governor Urjit Patel and senior bureaucrats of the finance ministry to appear before the panel on January 20 for scrutiny of the note ban.

When asked if the panel will summon PM for finance minister, he said, “It is the panel which takes decision on such matters. Decisions will be taken only after the PAC’s January 20 meeting .”

The PAC generally takes up issues for scrutiny on the basis of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)’s report. But in the case of demonetisation, it has taken suo motu cognizance of the matter.\

Read| RBI says will release numbers on demonetised notes at earliest