People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXVII

No. 18

May 05, 2013

 

 

 

The Need for Answers from PM

On Certain Questions before the JPC

 

Below we publish the full text of the note sent by Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G Spectrum scam to other members of the JPC on April 26, 2013 explaining why a conclusive report of the JPC cannot be prepared unless the following questions are answered by the prime minister and the finance minister.

 

The Draft Report prepared by the chairman of the JPC, P C Chacko states in Section 10.45 the following:

In view of the above, 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 UAS licences. Further, the assurance given by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology in all his correspondence with the Prime Minister to maintain full transparency in following established rules and procedures of the Department stood belied.

 

A Raja in his letter to Chacko has stated that he had kept the PM informed at each step of the process and through personal meetings as well as during cabinet meetings. The Draft Report also shows that indeed he wrote 3 letters to the PM prior to January 10, 2008 when the LoI's for the 120 licenses were issued. The Draft Report also states that the PM asked the PMO to prepare a Note on Raja's letter dated November 26, 2008 wherein he details the various steps he was proposing to take.

 

Taking the above into account, it is not possible for JPC to come to any conclusion about the veracity of Raja's claim or the statement in the Draft Report that the PM was misled without the PM answering the following:

 

1. Is it true that Raja had met him personally in the first week of January, 2008 as stated in his letter to brief the PM about the procedure he was going to follow? In his submission, Raja states, Thereafter I met the PM in the first week of January 2008 and this issue was again discussed and he agreed with the proposed course of action of the DoT.

2. If this meeting did take place, did the PM agree with Raja on the proposed course of action as Raja claims?

3. On what specific count can we hold that Raja misled the PM?

a) Is it about not auctioning/indexing license fees of 2001 for 2008?

b) Is it about the change in First-come-first-served policy regarding grant of license by which the date of fulfilling LoI first was to be used for grant of licenses and not the date of application

c) Is it about securing the consent of the Solicitor General to the procedure that was to be followed as stated by Raja in his November 26, 2008 letter?

4. On what count did Raja not maintain transparency regarding procedures which he was following in his communications with the PM as stated in the Draft Report

5. Even if the above is true that Raja misled the PM and did not maintain transparency as claimed by the Draft Report, the following issues still remain, which the PM needs to answer:

a) Even after LoI's were issued on January 10, 2008, since the licenses had not been issued, the government could have cancelled the LoI's and followed a proper procedure. Why did the PM not take action as he had himself asked that the Note prepared by Pulok Chatterjee, Secretary PM, dated January 6, 2008 be modified to take into account the status after issuing of the LoI's?

b) The PM had stated on October 29, 2011 in his meeting with TV editors that the finance ministry and the DoT had agreed on keeping 2001 prices for entry and spectrum fees for 2008. Was this agreement between Finance Ministry and DOT reached before January 10, 2008 or afterwards?

c) On what basis did the PM drop the suggestion for auctioning of the licenses he himself had made to Raja in his letter dated November 2, 2008?

Keeping in mind the high office he occupies, the PM can give answers to the JPC orally or in writing. Without answers from the PM on the above, it is difficult to understand how the JPC can come to any conclusion regarding the PM being misled by Raja.

 

THE NEED FOR ANSWERS

FROM FINANCE MINISTER

The Draft Report prepared by P C Chacko has made a number of observations regarding the finance ministry, and therefore of the finance minister's handling of the 2G license issues. It is not possible for JPC to come to any conclusion about the role of the finance minister without answers to the following questions.

 

Specifically, the Draft Report mentions in Section 10.43 the following:

 

The Ministry of Finance have informed the Committee that no communication was sent by the Department of Economic Affairs in response to the letter dated November 29, 2007 from the Department of Telecommunications. From the sequence of events, the Committee gather the impression that the Ministry of Finance was in agreement with the position explained by the Department of Telecommunications in respect of cross-over fee charged for allowing usage of Dual Spectrum Technology by the existing licensees.

 

Does the finance minister agree with the Draft Report that by not responding to the position as explained by DoT regarding license fees, the Ministry of Finance had in effect given its consent? Why did the finance ministry not press the issue of entry and spectrum fee being pegged to 2001 prices in 2008, especially as the DoT had referred to the Cabinet note where it was mandatory to have such an agreement between the finance ministry and the DoT as per Section 2.1.2 (3)?

 

As a formal consent is required from the finance ministry to fixing of license fees, did the finance ministry give such a consent?

 

A Raja is his letter to Chacko has also stated that his actions regarding license fees was with the concurrence of the finance ministry and the finance minister, whom he had met during the first week of January, 2008. Is it true that such a meeting took place and if so, is it correct that the FM had given his consent to license fee being kept at the 2001 level for the 2008 issuing of licenses?

 

Why did the FM agree as can be seen from his note to the PM on January 15, 2008 to treat the matter of entry and spectrum fees for LoI's issued on January 10, 2008 as a closed matter?

 

Why did the FM agree on January 30, 2008 in his meeting with A Raja to treat the entry and spectrum fees for LoI's issued on January 10, 2008 as a closed matter?

 

As one of the most eminent lawyers of the country, the FM was undoubtedly aware that LoI's could be cancelled before the formal grant of licenses and therefore his consent was essential for the entry and spectrum fees being kept at 2001 levels in 2008?

 

Why did the FM not push for the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rule-4, which makes such concurrence mandatory regardless of the Cabinet note?

 

Why did the FM not push for the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rule-7, which specifies in the second schedule that in cases which involves financial implications on which the finance minister desires a decision of the Cabinet and if a difference of opinion arises between two or more ministries and a Cabinet decision is desired, the matter shall be brought before the Cabinet?

 

Keeping in mind the high office he occupies, the FM can give answers to the JPC orally or in writing. Without answers from the FM on the above, it is difficult to understand how the JPC can come to any conclusion regarding the role of the Finance Ministry or the FM.