Government has to take PAC report seriously : Experts

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Parliament of India
New Delhi, Apr 28:  As a controversy rages over the draft PAC report on the 2G scam, Parliamentary experts are unanimous that recommendations of a Parliamentary committee are to be normally accepted or at least "taken seriously" by the Government.

According to constitutional and parliamentary experts, though the PAC is a recommendatory body, reports of which are not legally binding, traditionally the government has accepted most of the reports submitted by it.

The government has to file an Action Taken Report within three months on the report.

"It has to be stated in writing as to why certain recommendations of the PAC have not been accepted by the government to the committee on which it (the PAC) gives further views," noted constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap said.

The PAC sends its report to the Speaker in case the House is not in session and a copy is sent to the Government.

"Normally, the government largely accepts the recommendations," Kashyap said adding the reason behind it being that PAC was the oldest and most respected Parliamentary committee.

Agreeing with this view, former Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Achary said according to Parliamentary convention and tradition most of the recommendations of the PAC are accepted or at least paid "serious attention".

The PAC can suggest legal or otherwise action against some individuals or group of individuals or it can suggest some systemic changes for the future, he said.

The 2G spectrum allocation is, according to him, the most politically sensitive case probed by the committee which was set up during the British rule in 1921 in the wake of the Montague-Chelmsford Reforms.

The then Committee on Public Accounts underwent a radical change with the coming into force of the Constitution of India on January 26, 1950, when the Committee became a Parliamentary Committee functioning under the control of the Speaker with a non-official Chairman appointed by the Speaker from among the Members of Lok Sabha elected to the Committee.

"Over a period of time the PAC has been expending its role," he added. 

In the first session, after three hours of deliberations, Joshi found the going tough and adjourned the proceedings till 4 PM.

During the morning session, the 11 MPs gave in writing rejecting the report and demnding a vote. They spoke against the draft report alleging malafide intentions behind it. BJP MP Yashwant Sinha defended Joshi.

Soz'' resolution read, "I move that the draft report on recent developments in the allocation of 2-G and 3-G Spectrum circulated by chairman be rejected." He moved it the moment the post-lunch session started.

In case of lack of consensus in Committee meetings, rules of procedure and conduct of business in Lok Sabha provide that all questions at any sittings of the Committee shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members present and voting.

The draft report indicts the Prime Minister and the PMO for giving an "indirect green signal" to Raja for going ahead with his policies.

It also 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 had some unpleasant words for 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".

During the meeting, UPA members expressed concern over leakage of the draft report. Congress and DMK members demanded voting to decide whether the report should be submitted to Lok Sabha.

The meeting began with members cutting across party lines discussing the leakage of the draft report which was circulated to the Parliamentary Committee by Chairperson Murli Manohar Joshi. Some members said this was a matter of ethics and suggested that CBI should investigate it.

Sources said though there were major differences between members the meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere.

Joshi reportedly gave each member the opportunity to express his views.

The strength of the two sides is delicately balanced in the 21-member committee which has seven representatives from the Congress, four from BJP, two each from AIADMK and DMK, and one each from Shiv Sena, BJD, JD(U), SP, BSP and CPI(M).

Rules state that in case of all financial reports if the majority in the committee decides against presentation of the report to the Speaker, the Chairperson has to go by this decision.

The Congress and DMK had yesterday attacked Joshi over the report and demanded his resignation, alleging that he was trying to destabilise the government.

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.

PTI

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