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|April 30, 2001||
The Rediff Interview/JPC Chairman Lt Gen Prakash Mani Tripathi (retd)
For Lt Gen Prakash Mani Tripathi, the BJP MP from Deoria in Uttar Pradesh, the announcement came as a bolt. He had just been appointed chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee to inquire into the recent stock market scam
Lt Gen Tripathi began his career in the army in 1955 as a second lieutenant. He commanded the 63rd Cavalry, and went on to become deputy chief of the army staff, planning and systems.
One of the highlights of his tenure was the commissioning of the first prototype of India's main battle tank, the Arjun, as director general, combat vehicles. He was awarded the Ati Vishisth Seva Medal and the Param Vishisht Seva Medal for his exemplary services.
In his first interview after his appointment, Lt Gen Tripathi spoke to rediff.com's Ramesh Menon.
How do you see the new assignment?
It is an assignment born out of circumstances. Parliament had taken note of the scam and demanded a JPC. I am looking forward to it.
What are the terms of reference?
There are six terms of reference. It is all very clear and comprehensive.
1. To go into all financial irregularities and manipulations that might have happened relating to share trading, and the role of various entities in it.
2. Fix responsibilities on the culprits.
3. To identify the misuse, failure or inadequacy in the control and supervisory mechanism.
4. Recommendations for safeguards and improvements in the system.
5. Suggest measures to protect small investors.
6. Suggest deterrent measures against those found guilty.
Do you foresee any hitches?
No. The JPC is going to have eminent parliamentarians on it. Twenty are from the Lok Sabha, and 10 are from the Rajya Sabha. I am sure all of us will be able to find out what went wrong, what the problem was and also figure out sound recommendations. It is going to be a long process where lot of institutions and individuals connected with the scam will have to be examined.
Why do you think you were chosen to head the JPC?
I do not have the foggiest idea. I guess it was because I have a good experience in administration after having spent three-and-a-half decades in the army. I also had a good political background having been in Parliament for two terms.
When do you start work?
I have just taken over. I guess we will start within a week as all the members have to first meet and coordinate. There is a lot of work involved. The earlier JPC probing the Harshad Mehta scam had given a 344 page report and heard 90 people. They had clocked 400 hours of work.
How long will it approximately take for you to give in your report?
We should finish by the end of the monsoon session of Parliament. That is around four months of work. It may take more time, but I hope to finish it in time.
Some members of the JPC, it is said, allegedly have links with some controversial stockbrokers. Will it hamper your probe?
I do not see a reason why the probe will be hampered. After all, once you are a member of the probe, you have to work towards helping in the probe. I do not want to start with any prejudices.
How will you fend off political pressure?
I do not see it happening. I have been given a job by the Speaker and will go about doing it to the best of my ability. The question of political pressure has no relevance right now. I will deal with political pressure if there is any. At the moment, I think everyone in India is interested in knowing the truth about the scam.
The JPC is huge, with 30 members. Will that pose a problem in arriving at a consensus?
Again, this is a hypothetical question. We all know there is a huge volume of work that we have to complete together. The group is full of eminent personalities and they know they represent a large percentage of voters. They will go about the task well.
The earlier JPC, headed by Ram Niwas Mirdha, did not yield anything.
That JPC did make recommendations. Cases are still going on against Harshad Mehta. It may take time for justice to catch up as the procedures are time consuming.
Design: Lynette Menezes
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