‘It’s Speaker’s discretion’, says Chacko as opposition demands his removal

New Delhi, Apr. 25 (ANI): With the opposition members demanding his ouster from the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) that is looking the 2G spectrum allocation scam, panel chairperson and Congressman P.C. Chacko on Thursday said it is Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar’s discretion and she has to take a decision on it.

“There is no rule to remove a chairman of the committee. It is not there in our rulebook. So, it is the Speaker’s discretion and she has to take a decision,” said Chacko.

“I have also received a copy written by the Congress members to the Speaker. The Speaker has to take a decision,” he added, when asked about the Congress Party writing a letter to the Lok Sabha Speaker and asking for removal of three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders from JPC.

Hours after the opposition members submitted a memorandum to the Lok Sabha Speaker demanding the removal of Chacko as JPC chairman, the Congress Party hit back and wrote a letter to Meira Kumar demanding the removal of BJP members Jaswant Singh, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Yashwant Sinha on technicalities.

As the opposition prepared to scuttle the JPC report on 2G scam, the Congress-led UPA Government today expressed confidence that the members will exercise their correct judgement irrespective of their party affiliation.

“I am confident that the members will exercise their correct judgement irrespective of their party affiliation,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told mediapersons outside the Parliament here.

“Well…we will see that in the meeting,” he added, when asked whether the members of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the JPC would support the report prepared by Chacko.

15 JPC members belonging to BJP, JD (U), CPI, CPM, Trinamool Congress, BJD, DMK and AIADMK submitted a memorandum to the Lok Sabha Speaker earlier today, and expressed ‘no-confidence’ in Chacko on grounds of ‘highly partisan, unfair and prejudicial’ conduct as also leakage of the draft report.

Former Telecom Minister A. Raja had earlier on Monday lashed out at the JPC for not allowing him to depose before it, saying this is not the way the panel examining the 2G spectrum allocation is expected to function.

“This is not the way the JPC is expected to function. Even without waiting for my statement the JPC prepared a draft report and also leaked it to the media,” said Raja. “I always had concerns about the credibility of JPC,” he added.

Raja, who has been accused of indulging in a scam worth Rs. 1.76 lakh crore when in office, last week reiterated that he did everything in consultation with the Prime Minister, and said that he will prove his innocence in the 2G spectrum scam case.

Raja has repeatedly said that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram were in the loop over policy decisions related to 2G spectrum allocation.

According to media reports, a leaked draft report of the committee says Raja had tweaked the rules to award mobile permits to a few chosen companies, and that the Prime Minister and Finance Minister were not informed about the changes.

The draft report has given a clean chit to the Prime Minister on the 2G spectrum allocation, saying he was misled by the then Telecom Minister.

The report blames Raja for tweaking norms in favour of a few companies. It rubbishes the loss figure of 1.76 lakh crore rupees estimated by the CAG.

The 2G scam had damaged the reputation of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government and also tarnished the image of the country’s telecom sector.

Raja was forced to resign from the Union Cabinet after the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) faulted him for undervaluing spectrum to favour companies who were largely ineligible for 2G spectrum, and added that the government had probably lost Rs. 1.76 lakh crore in estimated revenue. (ANI)

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