The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) investigating the 2G spectrum scam has pinned the blame on former telecom minister A.Raja and exonerated both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
According to media reports, a leaked draft report of the committee says Raja had tweaked the rules to award mobile permits to a few chosen companies, and that the prime minister and finance minister were not informed about the changes.
"The committee is inclined to conclude that the prime minister was misled about the procedure decided to be followed by the Department of Telecommunications. 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," the draft report said.
The report also contradicts the national auditor's claim that Raja's scam-tainted licence allocation process in 2008 had caused a loss of 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer. The report extensively criticises the methods adopted by the CAG, including its use of 3G auction figures (the auction was carried out in 2010) to compute the so-called presumptive loss in 2008.
"In the backdrop of the disrepute caused to the nation on account of projection of such astronomical figures in the Audit Report pitching the country among the most corrupt nations in the world, the committee in hindsight could only wish that the figures projected in the report could have been more realistic deriving out of proven facts," the report added.
While the committee chairman, Congress member PC Chacko, was not available for comment, other members of the committee said they were yet to see the report.
Predictably, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has rejected the findings of the JPC. Party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday that the BJP will voice and place its note of dissent when the next meeting of the JPC takes place.
Prasad said that the draft report is more representative of a Congress report rather than a report of the JPC.
The Left Front also said that the findings of the draft JPC report on the 2G scam is completely unacceptable.
It is row expected that the row over the report could imperil the upcoming budget session of Parliament, starting on April 22.
The JPC report is due to be tabled in Parliament next week.
The report states that a controversial press release issued in January 2008 on awarding new mobile permits was changed at the last minute by Raja.
The former telecom minister had tweaked the first-come-first-served policy and awarded permits based on the order in which the companies had made the payments.
The draft report further says it was a policy decision to give licences on a first-come-first-served basis and not to go for auction of the spectrum. In February 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the first-come-first-served policy used by Raja to award mobile permits, which came bundled with airwaves, in 2008 was unconstitutional and directed the Centre to issue fresh licences and spectrum through an auction process.
The 2G scam has damaged the reputation of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government and also tarnished the image of the country's telecom sector that was long considered the poster-boy of reforms post-liberalisation. (ANI with inputs)