PAC, CAG hit out at Sibal, say remarks ‘improper’

Joining issue with Telecommunications Minister Kapil Sibal, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament on Wednesday termed his recent remarks on the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) report over the 2-G spectrum allocation scam "improper" and said he had undermined the dignity of both the PAC and the government auditor.

Speaking to the media after a meeting of the committee, chairman Murli Manohar Joshi said he had been "authorised by members to take appropriate steps to ensure that such instances do not recur". "The sense of the committee," according to him, was that Sibal's remarks were "improper, against propriety and an attack on the dignity of PAC and CAG, which is not good". He said if the minister wished to make any suggestion, the fora of the committee as well as the CAG were available to him.

Joshi refused to spell out his future course of action in the light of the "sense of the committee". "I will see (later)," he said. He said in reply to a question that members expressed their "concern" over Sibal's remarks, but maintained that there was no suggestion or proposal before the committee on Wednesday to call Sibal for seeking a clarification about his remarks. He was non-committal when asked if it was a breach of privilege. However, he said the PAC "would consider what steps we have to take" to ensure a recurrence of such incidents is avoided.

Defending the CAG report, Joshi said the government auditor had never claimed his estimates on presumptive losses to the exchequer were final. He pointed out that the CAG had only mentioned three different figures based on three different models to calculate the presumptive loss. Sibal had described as "utterly erroneous and without any basis" the estimated loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore arrived at by the CAG while allocating the 2-G spectrum to telecom operators.

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