30-member JPC formed to probe 2G scam, telecom policy

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NEW DELHI - Giving in to the opposition’s relentless demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC), the government Thursday formed a 30-member panel to probe alleged irregularities in the 2G spectrum allocation and to also look into the telecom policy from 1998 to 2009.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee moved a motion in the Lok Sabha to set up a JPC that has been asked to submit its report by the end of the monsoon session this year.

It will have 30 members, including the chairman. The panel will comprise 20 members from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha, Mukherjee said.

It will “examine policy prescriptions and their interpretation thereafter by successive governments, including decisions of the union cabinet and the consequences thereof, in the allocation and pricing of telecom licences and spectrum from 1998 to 2009″, the finance minister said.

He said the panel would also examine “irregularities and aberrations, if any, and the consequences thereof in the implementation of government decisions and policy prescriptions from 1998 to 2009″.

The panel has been tasked to make recommendations to ensure formulation of appropriate procedures for implementation of laid down policy in the allocation and pricing of telecom licences.

The formation of the JPC comes in the wake of opposition pressure that wanted a parliamentary panel to investigate how second generation telephony spectrum licences were sold to telecom firms allegedly at throwaway prices that according to the government auditor caused a loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer.

The Congress has eight Lok Sabha MPs in the panel. They are: P.C. Chacko, Manish Tewari, Jai Prakash Agarwal, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, V. Kishore Chandra Deo, Deependra Singh Hooda, Nirmal Khatri and Praban Singh Ghatowar.

From the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the panel members from the Lok Sabha are Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Harin Pathak and Gopinath Munde.

The other members are DMK’s T.R. Baalu, Trinamool Congress’ Kalyan Banerjee, Janata Dal-United’s Sharad Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Dara Singh Chauhan, Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav, Communist Party of India’s Gurudas Dasgupta, Biju Janata Dal’s Arjun Charan Sethi and AIADMK’s M. Thambi Durai.

Mukherjee asked Speaker Meira Kumar to nominate one of the members of the committee as its chairman.

However, sources said the Congress has “more or less” made up its mind to have Chacko, an MP from Kerala, as the head of the “sensitive” panel.

Chacko, a Congress old-timer, is considered “loyal and reliable”, the sources said.

The motion for the formation of JPC will now be referred to the Rajya Sabha for the approval and nomination of 10 members from the upper house.

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