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Open to amending JPC report if convinced: Chacko

Source: PTI
April 26, 2013 22:56 IST
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In a bid to end the confrontation in the Joint Parliamentary Committee, its chairman P C Chacko, under opposition fire, on Friday expressed willingness to consider amendments to the controversial draft report on 2G spectrum scam which gave clean a chit to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

Chacko told PTI that any amendment could be considered if the opposition members convince him through discussion about any wrong thing in the draft instead of indulging in politics.

He also expressed readiness for a probe into the leakage of the report to the media, amidst opposition's allegations that he was responsible for it.

"The aim should not be to reject the report. They should say we want to amend the report. They should convince the committee on the need to redraft the report...I am open to get convinced. But convincing comes subsequently. First, they should be ready for a discussion," he said in an interview.

He said he was ready to have a marathon meeting "continuously day and night" to debate the report in the committee as he has to table it in Parliament by May 10.

His comments came a day after 15 opposition members in the 30-member panel accused him of being "partisan" and demanded his removal as they criticised the draft report for giving clean chit to the prime minister and the finance minister.

Accusing opposition parties of indulging in politics, Chacko, a Congress leader, said if they maintain their present stance, it would mean that the report is not palatable to them.

 "They are damaging the healthy parliamentary practice," he said.

Chacko, who has been accused by the Opposition of leaking the JPC report before it could be discussed by the committee, offered to face any kind of inquiry on this.

"It is unfortunate. It is very bad," the JPC hairman said about the leakage last week.

Asked to comment on allegations by the opposition on leakage, he said "I am not responsible. If someone else has distributed it, it is not my responsibility."

On his part, he said he had taken ample precautions to ensure that there was no leakage of the report. In this context, he said special envelopes were ordered for, these were sealed properly and delivered personally to the members.

"That is why only 12 members could get the report on the first day. Other members were not available personally to receive it," Chacko said.

He also rubbished criticism that he had not allowed former Telecom Minister A Raja to depose before the committee.

"Raja did appear before the committee. If anybody says Raja's view did not come before the Committee, it is absolutely wrong.

"I personally discussed with Raja and convinced him to send his views in writing. Before a Parliamentary Committee, two types of appearances are there: personal and through representation. Both are taken equally. In our conclusions, we went through his submissions also. Raja's demand is fully satisfied," he contended.

Chacko also did not agree with the contention that Raja should have been given a chance to appear personally as he was the "main accused".

He said Raja was the "main accused" in a case before the court but not the JPC as its terms of reference were confined to the telecom policy between 1998 and 2009, its implementation and aberrations.

Chacko said the 30-member panel went into the broad policy framework and recommended future policy prescription.

"We could not have gone beyond the terms of reference. Raja was not the only case we were inquiring," he said.

Responding to a question on demands to call Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram as witnesses before the JPC, he said a majority of panel members did not share this view.

"It is true time and again it was stated and written by Yashwant Sinha, Ravi Shankar Prasad (BJP) and Gurudas Dasgupta. But that does not mean calling them was the majority view. I never took a personal decision. Every decision was based on majority view of the committee," he said.

He said the JPC has not come across "a single file or record or evidence" to find any culpability or any responsibility in the decision-making by the finance minister or the prime minister.

"People depose and say many things but we verify with the files. That is how we come to the conclusion," he said.

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