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JPC report on 2G scam submitted to Lok Sabha speaker

October 29, 2013 18:28 IST

The controversial report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee, which gave a clean chit to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the 2G spectrum scam saying he was "misled" by the then Telecom Minister A Raja, was on Tuesday submitted to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.

The report, on which six parties have submitted dissent notes, also rubbishes the loss figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore estimated by the Comptroller and Auditor General, saying it was "ill-conceived".

JPC Chairman P C Chacko submitted the report along with the dissent notes, which termed it as a "bundle of contradictions" to the speaker at her official residence.

The report, which delved into the period between 1998 and 2009, will be tabled in Parliament in the Winter Session likely to commence in the first week of December.

Chacko is learnt to have used his power to "edit" five of the six dissent notes to redraft the language which, according to him, was unparliamentary. The dissent notes are a way to record members' objections to the findings and are appended with the final report when it is tabled.

Eleven opposition members, including BJP's 5 and one each of the Biju Janata Dal, the Trinamool Congress, the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the All India Anna Dravida Munetra Kazhagam and the Dravida Munetra Kazhagam voted against the JPC report. BJP's Gopinath Munde had not attended the meeting.

In its dissent note, the BJP insisted that the prime minister and then Finance Minister P Chidambaram should have been asked to depose before the JPC.

They regretted that even though the main accused, Raja, had made several offers to depose before the panel, he was not allowed to do so.

The report, which was adopted by majority vote on September 27 in the absence of two Janata Dal-United members, also accuses Raja of forging the press note of January 7, 2008, after it was seen by the then Solicitor General G E Vahanvati.

Besides the Congress, its United Progresssive Alliance ally the nationalist Congress Party and outside supporters of the ruling alliance Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party had supported the report.

The committee wish to point out that the procedure regarding the First-Come-First-Served criteria was a "misrepresentation of facts and in tactic deviation from the existing procedure", the report says.

While giving sequence of events leading to allocation of the 2G spectrum, it says, "The Committee are inclined to conclude that the prime minister was misled about the procedure decided to be followed by the department of Telecommunications in respect of issuance of Unified Access Services  licences.

"Further, the assurance given by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology (Raja) in all his correspondence with the Prime Minister to maintain full transparency in following established rules and procedures of the Department stood belied."

It has also questioned the National Democratic Alliance’s decision to grant concessions to telecom companies on licence fee despite protests by then Telecom Minister Jagmohan and says the then government had to "forego" over Rs 42,000 crore in offering Migration Package to cellular operators.

On the issue of extending concessions to telecom operators such as moratorium on payment of licence fee, the panel said the government went ahead despite opposition by Jagmohan who was supported by then Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha.

The report also said that by offering migration package, the government had to forego revenue to the tune of Rs 42,080.34 crore.

"A perusal of the note initiated by the then minister of communications (Jagmohan) revealed that he was in complete disagreement with the representations made by the operators, who demanded a moratorium on payment of licence fee for two years and extension of period of licence from 10 to 15 years," the report said.

The report, which generated much heat after it was circulated to the 30 members of the JPC in April, suggests that there is nothing against Finance Minister P Chidambaram with regard to decisions taken by the Telecom Ministry on 2G allocation.

On the controversial press release issued just before the licences were allocated, the JPC report quotes the CBI to say that the January 7, 2008 press note was "forged by the

Minister of Communications and Information Technology" (Raja) with later inclusion of words "press release appd (approved) as amended".

On the government auditor's loss figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore, it said, "The committee are of the considered view that the very move for calculation of any loss on account of allocation of licences and spectrum is ill-conceived.

"It is imperative that the calculation of loss to the exchequer on account of allocation of licences and spectrum has to be viewed in the context of the overall policies laid down for the telecom sector from time to time...," it said.

The JPC, set up in March 2011, noted that though there were a number of recommendations on spectrum pricing made by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India or committees set up by government as well as views expressed by the finance ministry and the PMO, "there was no policy decision taken by the government in favour of auctioning of 2G spectrum."

It said, "Most of the time, TRAI, the department of telecommunications, the ministry of finance and the planning commission favoured maintaining of reasonable spectrum price so as to make available telecom services at affordable price and ensure level playing field among service providers using various technologies."

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