PAC, CAG say Sibal''s remarks improper

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New Delhi, Jan 12 (PTI) The high decibel attack on theCAG by Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal and Congress spokesmanManish Tewari was today countered by the PAC and thegovernment auditor which termed such a campaign as "improper"and one that could be contempt of the House.

The PAC, which met today, considered the remarks ofSibal and Tewari in the context of its report on the 2Gspectrum allocation and the sense of the members was thatthese were an attack on the dignity of the two constitutionalorgans.

At the PAC meeting an attempt was made by a seniorCongress member to distance the party from the remarks by thetwo were not the stand of the organisation.

But Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi produced a CDcontaining critical remarks of Sibal in television interviewsalmost suggesting that the "leak" of the report on 2G spectrumscam was from the CAG and statements of Tewari, sources said.

"The sense of the PAC was that Sibal''s remarks wereimproper, against propriety and an attack on the dignity ofPAC and CAG," Joshi told reporters here.

At a press conference last week, Sibal had described as"utterly erroneous and without any basis" the estimated lossof Rs 1.76 lakh crore arrived at by the CAG on account ofallocation of 2G spectrum to telecom operators.

Joshi said the forum of the Committee was available tothe minister to make any observation or suggestion on thereport of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on allegedirregularities in the 2G spectrum allocations.

Contesting Sibal''s remarks, Joshi said CAG had neversaid that its estimates on presumptive losses to the exchequerwere final.

"The CAG had only mentioned three different figures basedon three different models to calculate the presumptive loss.

It had never said the report was final," he said.

He said the PAC would consider steps that were necessaryto avoid repeat of such incidents.

In reply to a question, Joshi said there was nosuggestion or proposal before the Committee today to callSibal for seeking clarification on his remarks.

The CAG also came out with a statement, second in threedays, describing Sibal''s comments as "highly improper".

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"Making public comments on the matter which is being considered by a Parliamentary Committee is highly improper andmay even amount to contempt of the House," the CAG said.

The Minister''s view was later supported by Congress MPand Tewari, who lashed out at the CAG accusing it of violatingcanons of Parliamentary propriety.

"The CAG after holding a live press conference on 2Gspectrum issue is now advising MPs not to comment on itbecause the matter is being considered by PAC.

"It is an exotic logic that after going live withpresumptive losses contained in CAG report in flagrantviolation of canons of Parliamentary propriety, now CAG isresorting to argument of propriety," Tewari had saidyesterday.

The CAG statement said as per rules of Parliamentaryprocedure "When any matter is under consideration of aParliamentary Committee and the Committee is holding itssittings for that purpose, no persons, including a Member ofParliament should make or publish a statement or comment aboutthat matter".

Rebutting the charge of Sibal and Tewari that the reportwas discussed even before it was tabled in Parliament, the CAGsaid the report was tabled in Parliament on November 16 andDeputy C and AG held a press conference on the same day toexplain its findings to the media.

It has been a procedure since the 1980s that CAGofficials hold a press conference after the report is tabledin the House to brief the media.

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