House panel may question telcos, former ministers in 2G probe

Last Updated: Sun, Jul 29, 2012 19:10 hrs

The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on telecom might call former telecom ministers and top representatives of operators that are believed to have benefited from the the controversial second generation (2G) spectrum allocation, for questioning.

Members of different political parties are of the opinion that investigations in the 2G case cannot be completed without questioning executives of the corporate entities that had got licences at throwaway prices in the alleged arbitrary spectrum allocation process. “The JPC has questioned all bureaucrats who have been involved in the 2G spectrum allocation process not just in the regime of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, but also in the previous governments on how the telecom policy was formed. There are only two sets of people who have not been called so far and they are politicians and corporate (representatives),” said those in the know of development.

The first on the list is former telecom minister A Raja, who wants to appear before the JPC and clarify his stand to the committee members. The former minister is also in the process of writing to the JPC to invite him for the investigations, so that he could give his side of the story.

Although opposition members, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are of the opinion that not only Raja but other former telecom ministers and finance ministers should also be questioned in the investigations, the ruling UPA members are blocking the move of calling ministers.

The JPC could deliberate on the issue of calling former ministers and industry groups at its next meeting in the first week of August, ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament. “If Raja writes a letter and wants to appear before the JPC, then it will be difficult not to call him. The JPC had discussed calling him in the past as well. Some of the former ministers are holding constitutional posts today and it would be difficult to call them for questioning before the JPC. It will have to be discussed at length how they can be called, it’s a difficult process,” sources added.

Senior members of BJP, Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh, have already said they are willing to be questioned by the parliamentary committee and would want other former ministers to be also called for similar investigation process.

A section of members within JPC are of the view that since the process of calling former ministers could prove to be difficult and politically volatile, the parliamentary committee should first start calling the companies which were beneficiaries of the 2G spectrum licences.

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