Even as Bharatiya Janata Party MPs are boycotting the Joint Parliamentary Committee looking into the 2G spectrum scam, the panel's chairman P C Chacko has ruled out summoning of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
After Thursday's meeting, he also said that Finance Minister P Chidambaram cannot be called to give evidence as calling a minister requires Speaker Meira Kumar's permission. There is no unanimity in the JPC on calling Chidambaram for evidence, he noted.
Even the Public Accounts Committee headed by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi did not summon the prime minister, Chacko pointed out.
BJP members Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Gopinath Munde, Devendra Pradhan and Harin Pathak did not attend the meeting.
Chacko said the JPC will carry on with its function despite the BJP boycott. The next meeting of the committee is likely to take place on November 8.
The JPC chairman said he wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on the issue of calling the finance minister for evidence. The Speaker had tossed the ball back, saying the issue should come to her only if the committee decides to summon a minister.
Chacko said Chidambaram can be called only if there is consensus. The Congress MPs in the committee oppose summoning of Chidambaram.
On Thursday, former cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar appeared before the JPC. On the controversial note from finance ministry which was interpreted to mean the 2G scam could have been averted if P Chidambaram had opposed the decisions of former telecom minister A Raja, Chandrashekar said the note was meant to put all aspects of the issue in chronological order.
The assumptions and interpretations in the note could have been avoided, Chandrasekhar opined. Since the note was issued with approval of then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, it was seen as one minister blaming another.
Chandrashekhar informed the JPC that he had written that entry fee for new telecom players should be hiked to Rs35,000 crore. However, Chacko said the former cabinet secretary was of the view that loss to exchequer should not be calculated on the basis of any alternate policy.
12 members were present at Thursday's meeting which was the 48th sitting of the committee.