Sibal’s comment contempt of House: CAG


New Delhi : India’s official auditor Wednesday refuted Communications Minister Kapil Sibal’s allegations that its report on the 2G spectrum were leaked to the media and added that commenting on a matter being considered by a parliamentary panel was “highly improper”.

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Sibal had ridiculed the calculations of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that put the notional losses while awarding 2G spectrum at Rs.1.76 lakh crore ($40 billion) last week and later in an interview asked how the auditor’s report was leaked before it even got to parliament.

The auditor said it had just followed the mandate provided to it and submitted its findings to both houses of parliament and had done so on Nov 16, following which it became a public document.

“Once the report has been placed in the table of the House, it becomes a public document. As per the procedure being followed from 1980s the officers of the CAG then hold a press conference in the afternoon to explain their findings on that particular Report, to the media,” the CAG said in a statement.

The auditing agency said in this case a press briefing was arranged on Nov 16, after the report was placed before parliament and simultaneously uploaded on its website.

The report, which according to procedure, was then taken “automatically transmitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)”.

It, however, hinted that Sibal had broken rules of parliamentary procedure “as no person, including a member of parliament, should make or publish a statement or comment about that matter”.

“Making public comments on the matter which is being considered by a Parliamentary Committee is highly improper and may even amount to contempt of the House,” the statement said.

Accordingly, the auditor said it had not commented on media reports or “comments made by others on the report of the 2G spectrum allocation, as it was under discussion of the PAC”.

Meanwhile, PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi also said that Sibal’s “improper” remarks had hurt the prestige of the CAG.

The CAG stood by the report submitted to parliament during the winter session.

The report has raised a political storm in the country leading to a deadlock between the government and opposition.

The opposition has been relentlessly demanding setting up of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the irregularities in the allocation of the second generation telecom spectrum in 2008. The government has rejected the demand.

The issue even forced DMK leader A. Raja to step down as communications minister in November last.