Joint Parliamentary Committee Chairman P C Chacko on Wednesday rejected Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha's demand for Prime Minister Minister Manmohan Singh's appearance before the panel probing the 2G issue, saying the committee has "passed that phase".
"We have passed that phase. We are now preparing the draft of the committee report for which the committee has authorised its chairman unanimously," Chacko, who is also a Congress spokesperson, said at the AICC briefing.
Chacko, who had rubbished Sinha's demand as a "political stunt", has questioned how can any individual member of the JPC make such a suggestion when a due process has to be followed on whether any minister has to be called before the panel or not.
"There is no question of calling the Prime Minister or any minister just like that. We cannot call people merely because of somebody making a statement," he said.
Chacko claimed that "in the 56 meetings of the JPC, nobbody gave a suggestion for calling the Prime Minister or any Minister."
"Moreover, there is a rule that no minister can be called before the JPC. If at all JPC wants to call a minister, it has to take a unanimous decision first and then send the request to Lok Sabha Speaker. Any minister can be called before a Parliamentary panel only after the permission of the Speaker," the JPC Chairman said.
Two days after Sinha, a JPC member, wrote to the prime minister on the issue, Dr Singh responded on Wednesday by saying that "the decision as to what evidence should be sought and which individuals should be asked to appear before the JPC is a matter that needs to be decided internally by the JPC and its chairman."
Chacko said, "If the JPC is not calling the PM (to appear before it), what can the Prime Minister do?"
Sinha had used former Telecom Minister A Raja's communication to the JPC to demand that the Prime Minister should appear before the committee to "clear" his name.
Raja, who has repeatedly failed to persuade JPC to call him as witness, wrote to the committee last month saying the Prime Minister had been kept in the loop on 2G spectrum allocation.
Chacko also rejected criticism for not calling former Raja, out on bail in the 2G case, before the panel despite the DMK leader's insistence for it.
The JPC chairman said that if Raja is called before the Committee, all the telecom ministers, who served between 1998 and 2009 will have to be summoned as the Committee was examining the grant of licenses during this entire period.
Since the Committee was examining the issue from a perspective of 10 years "all the telecom ministers during this period should or should not have been called in the fairness of the demand. Officers concerned in the period from 1998 to 2009 have been called chronologically.
"The Committee has so far not deviated from the process," he said, indicating that before Raja is called the telecom ministers, who served in the non-Congress government, will have to be called.
Chacko also rejected the contention that the Prime Minister had offered to appear before the JPC.
"Prime Minister did not offer to go to the JPC but before the PAC headed by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi. But the Opposition was then not ready to accept it and was saying that PAC was not the body to examine it," he said.