DMK wants a debate on 2G scam to throw mud on CAG?

By: Prahlad Rao
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 A Raja
New Delhi, Nov 29: Look who is demanding a debate on 2G scam. The DMK, whose leaders face charges of illegal favours being granted, and former telecom minister A Raja himself want to take shelter under the privilege of Parliament and throw mud on CAG report.

Early this week, the Congress opened a window to DMK to sneak in by making a statement that the government was ready to discuss contentious issue of Rs 1.76 lakh crore loss. The DMK grabbed it and even Raja has given a notice in the Lok Sabha to debate and find out whether the 2G loss estimated by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) was authentic.

Under normal Parliamentary practice, all CAG reports are discussed by the members of parliament. But why have a separate discussion on the issue when we have tonnes of issues waiting for debate and resolution? Last session of the Parliament was a washout and the winter session is yet to get on its feet.

Interestingly, the 2G scam trial completed one year this week and Raja is out on bail after spending 15 months in jail. The case has seen recording of over 3,000 pages of depositions in the examination of over 100 witnesses.

The day-to-day trial began on Nov 11, 2011 after Special CBI Judge OP Saini framed charges against 17 accused, in which Raja is the key accused. The 2G spectrum case is also being monitored by the Supreme Court. If convicted, the accused will face the punishment ranging from six months in jail to life imprisonment.

Meanwhile, a group of retired government auditors came out in support of CAG Vinod Rai against what they termed the "unprecedented, prolonged and fierce campaign" adopted by the government and Congress over the audit on the 2G allocation.

Led by former additional secretary in the finance ministry S Krishnan, the officials said the purpose of the campaign was to cripple the institution and termed it "a deliberate assault and an attempt to damage a crucial pillar of the basic structure of the Constitution". The officials include former additional deputy CAG SC Anand, deputy CAGs BP Mathur, JN Gupta, R Parameshwar and former secretary RR Iyer.

On auditor (retd) RP Singh's claim that his draft was edited and changed, Krishnan said this is a normal practice in all bureaucracies. "Comments or objections or reports initiated from the field offices may be modified or sharpened or toned down or even dropped at the headquarters. There is nothing sinister in this. It happens in case of all reports. CAG's office at headquarters has a responsibility to make sure that the draft report is worthy of signature by the CAG and submission to the President of India," he said.

He said to make sure that the quality of the report is consistent, there is a system of peer review of the draft. "RP Singh himself is said to have sat in on the peer review of his draft report... Once that process is completed and CAG has approved the draft, the initiating DG has to sign the report."

"Obviously, it is indeed not and cannot be his (Singh's) report. All audit reports are the CAG's reports. The vast organisation under the CAG, including RP Singh, assists the CAG in discharging his constitutional responsibilities, and has no separate existence of its own," the statement of the group said.

On Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari's suggestion for an open debate on the report with Rai, the former officials said once a report has been finalised, signed and submitted to the President, there is no question of the CAG debating it with anyone.

"In fact, once the report is submitted and is laid on the table of the House, it becomes the property of Parliament and is not open for debate in any other forum," the former officials said

So, where is the need for a separate discussion as requested by the DMK and Raja. As such, the judiciary is already in the picture and let truth come out with justice. People have little trust in politicians and their institutions.

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