Sibal under attack from Joshi over CAG remarks


New Delhi : IT and Communications Minister Kapil Sibal came under scathing attack from parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Wednesday for his remarks over the government auditor’s report on the 2G spectrum allocation.

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Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who heads the PAC, said Sibal’s remarks have hurt the prestige of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) as well as the PAC.

“Sibal’s remarks were improper and against the propriety. His remarks have damaged the prestige of the CAG as well as the PAC. That was not right in any way,” Joshi told reporters here.

He said the CAG was a constitutional body tasked to scrutinize government spending.

“He (Sibal) could have spoken to the committee if he had any misgivings over the CAG,” the BJP leader said.

Joshi said the PAC members in a meeting Wednesday suggested that “appropriate measures should be taken to prevent such incidents (anybody speaking against constitutional authorities) in the future”.

Asked what steps the PAC would take, Joshi said the committee “is thinking over that”. “We will let you know.”

Last week, Sibal had questioned the findings of the CAG report related to the 2G spectrum allotment saying its estimate of Rs.1.76 lakh crore loss to the exchequer was “utterly erroneous”.

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.

The CAG report on the 2G spectrum is being probed by the PAC and Joshi said the committee is examining the report.

“The CAG has said its findings may not be conclusive. They have given a range of losses which can be less or more than its projection. The CAG reports are presumptive but they cannot be annulled as such.”

Asked how long the PAC will take to examine the report and come out with its own findings, Joshi said: “We cannot give a time frame. It can take a year or two. But we are examining it.”