|PAC versus JPC|
|Thursday, 17 March 2011 00:00|
Cross-checking each fact, verifying each statement, is a good idea, but even the most rigorous taskmaster will not suggest two inquiries be held on the same issue by two different people. Apart from being a colossal waste of time, and even embarrassment for all concerned (imagine the lot of India’s telecom industry as CEOs trot to the CBI office for interrogation, then repeat the same exercise before two other bodies), imagine what will happen if the two investigations reach different conclusions.
Yet, that’s precisely what is in danger of happening with both the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) now inquiring into the Raja scam. When the BJP was insisting upon a JPC and the government was of the view that the PAC was the proper forum for an investigation since all CAG reports went to the PAC anyway, the BJP argued the PAC had a limited mandate. The BJP argued that the JPC would be able to do justice to the issue since it could summon more people. Well, we now have both bodies, so the onus is on the BJP to ensure we don’t have a mockery of justice where both bodies are drawing up their lists to interrogate essentially the same set of persons on the same set of issues. What happens if the JPC, for the sake of argument, finds that the finance ministry also acquiesced with A Raja and if the JPC feels the finance ministry was always opposed to what Raja was doing; if the PAC says the CAG’s estimates are woefully wrong while the PAC feels they are right … the list of potential embarrassments goes on.
It has been this newspaper’s view that the JPC was a always going to be a waste of time, given the history of previous JPCs and given that the Raja matter was being investigated by the CBI under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court. This newspaper has argued that since the real issue was the loss of revenue, the first focus had to be on cancelling the licences so they could be re-auctioned and the government could recover its money. The BJP, however, wanted its JPC and it has got it. It now has to do the honourable thing and get the PAC, headed by a senior leader of its party, to back off, which is what the head of the JPC has asked for.