|What the JPC should do|
|Tuesday, 22 February 2011 00:00|
Now that the government has agreed to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the 2G scam, it’s a good idea to focus on a few dos and don’ts for the committee. More so since the temptation will be to play to the gallery, using each minute of the free air-time a JPC guarantees to go to the press to announce a new ‘finding’, a new ‘indictment’ of a powerful minister, maybe even the Prime Minister. Frankly that’s a waste of time, and will get us back to the competitive politics we’ve been trying to get over—instead of focusing on cleaning up the Raja mess, Kapil Sibal seemed more intent on blaming the BJP for the mess; the last thing we need is for the BJP to now return the compliment. Everyone knows that A Raja changed the rules to benefit a few firms; it is well-known that he kept the Prime Minister informed of his moves, including the controversial decision to advance the cut-off date from October 1, 2007, to September 25; it is equally well-known that the law ministry and the attorney general helped Raja in terms of the necessary legal cover … what’s the point of the JPC rediscovering what is already well-documented in the CAG and the Justice Shivraj Patil report?
Instead, the JPC would do well to focus on the areas even the CBI is only partially focused on. Several newspapers are publishing some parts of the money trail from those who Raja helped to the DMK’s Kalaignar TV; others are following investments into the Marans’ Sun TV. Given the resources the JPC will have at its command, including the CBI, it would be a good idea to complete the money trail. A host of companies who Raja helped have given loans to others, either directly or through convoluted legal fiction, and all are claiming their innocence on the basis of this legal fiction—if the JPC pierces the corporate veil, it will have done a good job. Even better would be the solutions/directions the JPC gives to ensure such scams are not repeated, and not just in telecom. A host of subsidiary companies have been used to disguise money trails, for instance. If the JPC is to recommend that such layering be disallowed (that means a change in the Companies Bill the government is contemplating), or that only auctions be used to distribute natural resources, that would be a step forward. Perhaps it could look at the possibility of removing licensing functions from the line ministry and putting this in the hands of a regulator that reports to Parliament … the list of what the JPC should do is a long one. Unless, of course, the name of the game was always meant to be Just Political Charades.