New Delhi, Apr 27: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has, in a draft report on 2G scam, strongly indicted former Telecom Minister A Raja and come down heavily on the PMO and the Cabinet Secretariat for not taking "corrective action" while not sparing even the Prime Minister for "some unfortunate omissions".
The report circulated by PAC Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi, which is most likely to be contested by members of the ruling UPA, is also understood to have attacked the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram for recommending to the Prime Minister to "treat the matter as closed" instead of taking action against those responsible for loss to the exchequer.
The voluminous report reportedly had some unpleasant words for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had kept his office at "arm's length" in 2G spectrum issue which helped Raja "to execute his unfair, arbitrary and dubious designs".
The report says the Prime Minister on January three, 2008 wanting to keep the PMO at "arm's length" seemed to have given an "indirect green signal" to Raja to go ahead and "execute his unfair, arbitrary and dubious designs".
The controversial distribution of licences and spectrum was taken by the DMK representative in the Cabinet on January 10, 2008, which the CAG had estimated a presumptive revenue loss of over Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
The report, which will come up for consideration at tomorrow's meeting, said the PMO certainly either failed to see the "forebodings or was rendered a mute spectator".
The committee said it was highly perturbed to note that the considered and imperative advise given by the Prime Minister and genuine concerns expressed by him on the developments in the telecom sector in his November 2007 letter to Raja was "just disregarded" by him.
"The Prime Minister was in fact misled when he was informed by the minister (Raja) that the issue of auction of spectrum was considered but not recommended by the Telecom Commission and also not recommended by TRAI. The minister was saying half truth, concealing the other half, concealing his ulterior design," the report said.
In its criticism of the PMO, the report said the PMO's reply that no suggestion of the Law Minister to set up an Empowered Group of Ministers was received by them does not convince the committee.
"...the PMO was very much aware of Law Minister's suggestions but the counter view of the Communication Minister got overriding preference to the Law Minister's view for some unknown reasons and thus no effort was made by the PMO to initiate the process of constitution of the EGoM.
"The PMO certainly either failed to see the forebodings or was rendered a mute spectator," the report said.
However, the report had a word of praise for the then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee who had in a note to the Prime Minister revealed that he had underlined the responsibility of the government to frame, revise and change the policy in a transparent manner and then follow it in letter and spirit.
Mukherjee had also categorically remarked that while keeping on issuing new licences, the criteria for grant of the licences may be strengthened and put in public domain at the earliest.
Thus, it is evident that he did not give any wrong advice to Raja who in turn "distorted the facts while writing to the Prime Minister".
Not only that, Raja "arrogantly" termed the suggestions of the Law Minister to refer the spectrum related matter to EGoM as "out of context".
He audaciously informed the Prime Minister that the cut- off date has been fixed at 25th September, 2007 on the plea of shortage of spectrum whereas on another occasion he had said that there was enough scope for allotment of spectrum to few new operators.
"His (Raja) assurance to the Prime Minister that he was not deviating from the established and existing procedures was a blatant lie as he deformed and distorted the first-come, first-serve (FCFS) policy," the draft report said.
In its comments on Chidambaram, the report said "the committee are shocked and dismayed to note that the Finance Minister, in his note dated February 15, 2008, acknowledged that spectrum is a scarce resource and the price of spectrum should be based on its scarcity value and efficiency of usage but made unique and condescending suggestion that the matter be treated as closed.
"The committee believed that ends of accountability demand that any wrongful loss caused to the government is made good and the guilty brought to justice.
"The committee view it most unfortunate that since the Finance Minister, the guardian of the public exchequer and entrusted with the principle task of mobilisation of resources for public welfare, instead of initiating stringent and swift action against all those responsible for the whopping loss to the exchequer, pleaded with the Prime Minister to treat the matter as closed," it said.
The committee found the Secretary of Department of Economic Affairs deficient and wanting as he failed to bring the matter to the notice of Cabinet secretary or even in writing to the Finance Minister even after irregularities became public and there was public outcry for the huge loss to the public exchequer.
It sought explanation from the then Secretary, DEA and all those who chose to be silent bystander or rather indulgently condescending and pleaded for forgetting the loss and treating the chapter as closed. PTI