Questions to the PM
April 26, 2013
The following note has been sent by Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G Spectrum scam to other members of the JPC explaining why a conclusive report of the JPC cannot be prepared unless the following questions are answered by the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister.
************* Dear Hon’ble Colleague,
The Need for Answers from the Hon’ble Prime Minister on Certain Questions before the JPC
The Draft Report prepared by the Chairman of the JPC, Shri P.C. Chacko states in Section 10.45 the following: In view of the above, the Committee are inclined to conclude that the Prime Minister was misled about the procedure decided to be followed by the Department of Telecommunications in respect of issuance of UAS licences. Further, the assurance given by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology in all his correspondence with the Prime Minister to maintain full transparency in following established rules and procedures of the Department stood belied.
Shri A.Raja in his letter to Shri Chacko has stated that he had kept the Hon’ble PM informed at each step of the process and through personal meetings as well as during cabinet meetings. The Draft Report also shows that indeed he wrote 3 letters to the PM prior to the 10th January, 2008 when the LoI’s for the 120 licenses were issued. The Draft Report also states that the PM asked the PMO to prepare a Note on Shri Raja’s letter dated 26th November, 2008 wherein he details the various steps he was proposing to take.
Taking the above into account, it is not possible for JPC to come to any conclusion about the veracity of Shri Raja’s claim or the statement in the Draft Report that the PM was misled without the PM answering the following:
1. Is it true that Shri Raja had met him personally in the first week of January, 2008 as stated in his letter to brief the Hon’ble PM about the procedure he was going to follow? In his submission, Shri Raja states, “Thereafter I met the Hon’ble PM in the first week of January 2008 and this issue was again discussed and he agreed with the proposed course of action of the DoT.” 2. If this meeting did take place, did the Hon’ble PM agree with Shri Raja on the proposed course of action as Shri Raja claims? 3. On what specific count can we hold that Shri Raja misled the Hon’ble PM? a) Is it about not auctioning/indexing license fees of 2001 for 2008? b) Is it about the change in First-come-first-served policy regarding grant of license by which the date of fulfilling LoI first was to be used for grant of licenses and not the date of application c) Is it about securing the consent of the Solicitor General to the procedure that was to be followed as stated by Shri Raja in his 26th November, 2008 letter? 4. On what count did Shri Raja not maintain transparency regarding procedures which Shri Raja was following in his communications with the Hon’ble PM as stated in the Draft Report 5. Even if the above is true – that Shri Raja misled the PM and did not maintain transparency as claimed by the Draft Report, the following issues still remain, which the Hon’ble PM needs to answer: a) Even after LoI’s were issued on 10th January, 2008, since the licenses had not been issued, the Government could have cancelled the LoI’s and followed a proper procedure. Why did the Hon’ble PM not take action as he had himself asked that the Note prepared by Pulok Chatterjee, Secretary PM, dated 6th January, 2008 be modified to take into account the status after issuing of the LoI’s? b) The Hon’ble PM in October 29, 2011 had stated – in his meeting with TV editors – that the Finance Ministry and the DoT had agreed on keeping 2001 prices for entry and spectrum fees for 2008. Was this agreement between Finance Ministry and DOT reached before 10th January, 2008 or afterwards? c) On what basis did the Hon’ble PM drop the suggestion for auctioning of the licenses he himself had made to Shri Raja in his letter dated 2nd November, 2008? Keeping in mind the high office he occupies, the Hon’ble PM can give answers to the JPC orally or in writing. Without answers from the Hon’ble PM on the above, it is difficult to understand how the JPC can come to any conclusion regarding the Hon’ble PM being misled by Shri Raja. The Need for Answers from the Hon’ble Finance Minister on Certain Questions before the JPC The Draft Report prepared by Shri P.C. Chacko has made a number of observations regarding the Finance Ministry, and therefore of the Finance Minister’s handling of the 2G license issues. It is not possible for JPC to come to any conclusion about the role of the Hon’ble Finance Minister without answers to the following questions. Specifically, the Draft Report mentions in Section 10.43 the following: The Ministry of Finance have informed the Committee that no communication was sent by the Department of Economic Affairs in response to the letter dated 29 November, 2007 from the Department of Telecommunications. From the sequence of events, the Committee gather the impression that the Ministry of Finance was in agreement with the position explained by the Department of Telecommunications in respect of cross-over fee charged for allowing usage of Dual Spectrum Technology by the existing licensees. Does the Finance Minister agree with the Draft Report that by not responding to the position as explained by DoT regarding license fees, the Ministry of Finance had in effect given its consent? Why did the Finance Ministry not press the issue of entry and spectrum fee being pegged to 2001 prices in 2008, especially as the DoT had referred to the Cabinet note where it was mandatory to have such an agreement between the Finance Ministry and the DoT as per Section 2.1.2 (3)? As a formal consent is required from the Finance Ministry to fixing of license fees, did the Finance Ministry give such a consent? Shri A. Raja is his letter to Shri Chacko has also stated that his actions regarding license fees was with the concurrence of the Finance Ministry and the Finance Minister, whom he had met during the first week of January, 2008. Is it true that such a meeting took place and if so, is it correct that the Hon’ble FM had given his consent to license fee being kept at the 2001 level for the 2008 issuing of licenses? Why did the Hon’ble FM agree – as can be seen from his note to the PM on 15th January, 2008 – to treat the matter of entry and spectrum fees for LoI’s issued on 10th January, 2008 as a closed matter? Why did the Hon’ble agree on 30th January, 2008 in his meeting with Shri A. Raja to treat the entry and spectrum fees for LoI’s issued on 10th January, 2008 as a closed matter? As one of the most eminent lawyers of the country, the Hon’ble FM was undoubtedly aware that LoI’s could be cancelled before the formal grant of licenses and therefore his consent was essential for the entry and spectrum fees being kept at 2001 levels in 2008? Why did the Hon’ble FM not push for the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rule-4, which makes such concurrence mandatory regardless of the Cabinet note? Why did the Hon’ble Finance Minister not push for the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rule-7, which specifies in the second schedule that in cases which involves financial implications on which the Finance Minister desires a decision of the Cabinet and if a difference of opinion arises between two or more ministries and a Cabinet decision is desired, the matter shall be brought before the Cabinet? Keeping in mind the high office he occupies, the Hon’ble FM can give answers to the JPC orally or in writing. Without answers from the Hon’ble FM on the above, it is difficult to understand how the JPC can come to any conclusion regarding the role of the Finance Ministry or the Hon’ble FM.