JPC-PAC turf war: PC Chacko meets Speaker with complaint

New Delhi, March 25 (PTI): The JPC Chief P.C. Chacko on Friday approached Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar with a complaint that Public Accounts Committee (PAC) could be encroaching upon its turf in the probe in 2G Spectrum scam and sought her intervention. He also brought to her notice questions raised by some JPC members over presence of certain members on account of conflict of interest, considering that they had been ministers in previous governments and hence part of decision-making on telecom policy, sources told PTI.
Mr. Chacko, a senior Congress leader, met the Speaker a day after the first meeting of the 30-member JPC, during which these two issues dominated the proceedings. Mr. Chacko is understood to have conveyed to the Speaker that the members of JPC were of the view that PAC might be holding a probe parallel to JPC by going beyond its specific mandate of looking into financial aspects of 2G Spectrum allocation highlighted by CAG, the sources said. The matter will now be decided by the Speaker. Mr. Chacko has maintained that there was no clash between him and Mr. Joshi but was only raising a point of propriety.
He had said on Thursday that members of the JPC were “unanimous” that parallel probe by two committees of Parliament inquiring into the same issue was “avoidable” and “not good” as “the final reports (of the two committees) could be same and could also differ”. Mr. Joshi, on the other hand, was unrelenting as he maintained that PAC’s powers went beyond the CAG report and overlapping could not be ruled out. During the meeting with the Speaker, Mr. Chacko also requested her to decide on continuance in the JPC of some members who had been ministers between 1998 and 2008 as it could be a matter of conflict of interests, the sources said.
The period between 1998 and 2008 is under scrutiny for framing and implementation of the telecom policy. During Yesterday’s meeting, members of the Congress, Trinamool Congress and Left had raised questions over presence of BJP leaders Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha in the JPC, pointing out that in the NDA government, they were ministers and part of Group of Ministers which dealt with the telecom policy, the sources said. There were questions as to how Mr. Sinha and Mr. Singh could sit on judgement on an issue of which they were a part. Meanwhile, sources said the next meeting of the JPC will be held on May 18, a delay which is on account of the Assembly elections in five states as members of the committee would be busy campaigning. Mr. Chacko has been saying that he would try to give the report by the end of Monsoon session of Parliament.