Sixty-five-year old Chacko, who represents Thrissur in Kerala in the Lok Sabha, was appointed the head of the 30-member high-level panel by Speaker Meira Kumar, said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.
The JPC, having 20-members from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha, came into being a few days back, ending three-months of deadlock in Parliament between the government and the opposition, which latched on to a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General late last year which spoke of a presumed loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore. The two Houses of Parliament have passed resolutions approving the setting up of the JPC.
A Raja was forced to quit in November as telecom minister in the wake of the CAG report and is currently lodged in Tihar jail after being questioned by the CBI. The government says that Raja was being prosecuted for the possibility of criminal culpability.
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has assured Parliament that the government would not spare any wrongdoer. The JPC will examine irregularities and aberrations, if any, in the implementation of government decisions and policy prescriptions on telecom licences and spectrum from 1998 to 2009.
The Parliamentary panel will also make recommendations to ensure appropriate procedures for allocation and pricing of telecom licences. It will examine policy prescriptions and their interpretation by successive governments, including the decisions of the Union cabinet and the consequences thereof, in the allocation and pricing of licences and spectrum.
The government had agreed to the JPC after the opposition threatened to disrupt the Budget session of Parliament as well, after almost the entire winter session was washed out. The committee has been given time till the end of the monsoon session of Parliament to give its report.
Besides Chacko, the 19 members on the Committee from the Lok Sabha are V Kishore Chandra Deo, Paban Singh Ghatowar, Jai Prakash Agarwal, Deepender Singh Hooda, Manish Tewari, Nirmal Khatri, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury from the Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's T R Baalu (DMK), and Kalyan Banerjee from the Trinamool Congress. Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Harin Pathak, Gopinath Munde from the Bharatiya Janatar Party, Sharad Yadav from the Janata Dal-United, Dara Singh Chauhan from the Bahujan Samaj Party, Akhilesh Yadav from the Samajwadi Party, Gurudas Dasgupta from the Communist Party of India, Arjun Charan
Sethi from the Biju Janata Dal and M Thambidurai from the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam are members from the non-United Progressive Alliance parties on the JPC from the Lok Sabha.
Rajya Sabha members on the Committee are P J Kurien, Jayanthi Natarajan and Praveen Rashtrapal from the Congress, Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), T Siva (DMK), S S Ahluwalia and Ravi Shankar Prasad (both BJP), Y P Trivedi (Nationalist Congress Party), Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP) and Ramchandra Prasad Singh (JD-U).Natarajan has replaced Abhishek Singhvi who has recused himself from the JPC as he had appeared as advocate in the court for cellular operators.
Image: PC Chacko