By Appu Esthose Suresh
The officer behind the CAG’s 2G spectrum audit has said he was told to sign off on the controversial report by CAG headquarters even though he did not agree with the report’s findings.
R P Singh, former D-G, Post and Telecommunications at CAG, also said that CAG officials visited the residence of BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, chairman of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), on a holiday to help him prepare the panel’s report on the 2G spectrum allocation.
The PAC report was strongly critical of the roles played by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Attorney-General G E Vahanvati. About half the 21-member PAC, led by Congress members, rejected the report. On April 30, 2011, Joshi submitted the report to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar without their signatures, which the Speaker returned.
R P Singh told The Indian Express in a telephone interview that CAG officials had visited Joshi’s residence on the Good Friday holiday on April 22, 2011.
“I got to know from my team members that CAG officials including senior CAG officials from headquarters went to the PAC chairman’s residence and assisted him in preparing the PAC report. I cannot say with certainty what exactly transpired at the meeting,” Singh said.
Asked if there was an attempt by the PAC chairman to influence the outcome of the CAG’s 2G report before it was tabled in Parliament, Singh said “it appears” from a note prepared by R B Sinha, D-G at CAG headquarters, that there were “some telephone calls by the PAC chairman to access the 2G report which was under preparation”.
The PAC had been examining the 2G matter since 2008. Joshi became PAC chairman in 2010. The CAG report was tabled in Parliament on November 16, 2010, and put the presumptive loss from spectrum allocation between Rs 57,666 crore and Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
On the CAG’s report, Singh said: “This was not my report. It was CAG’s (the institution’s) report. What can I do as a subordinate when the CAG (Vinod Rai) has issued written instructions on how he wants the report? I sent a report which calculated a loss of Rs 2,645 crore. This was on May 31, 2010. After this my audit team was attached with CAG headquarters under Deputy CAG Rekha Gupta. I was not involved in the inclusion of auditing the Ministry of Finance. In July 2010, I was sent a heavily revised report, and asked to issue (it) to the Ministry of Finance and Department of Telecommunication. There was little I could do when I got a written instruction.”
The CAG report resulted in the stalling of Parliament by the opposition led by the BJP until the government agreed to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) in February 2011.
Singh retired in September 2011. He has deposed several times before the JPC looking into alleged differences of opinion within the CAG on the 2G report.
The CAG’s report did not have audit guidelines, which is integral to the audit process, “I wrote a letter to Rekha Gupta as early as in February 2010 seeking guidance on the preparation of audit guidelines, and subsequently reminded headquarters. However, I never got a reply,” Singh said.
Singh said he had communicated his disapproval of the audit report to CAG Vinod Rai through official channels. “I wrote a few letters to Rekha Gupta with a copy to CAG (Rai), explaining my views on the audit process and the calculation of loss among other details, which I was not approving. But I never had direct interaction with CAG (Rai) on this matter,” he said.
The parameters used in the CAG’s calculation were not tenable, Singh said. “I was of the opinion that documents available with us were categorical that charging of 2G spectrum was never recommended by Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), nor has the government ever contemplated any charges for the spectrum other than entry fee. In my communications to headquarters I maintained there was no documentary evidence to substantiate the calculations on the formula suggested by CAG headquarters. However, my office forwarded presumptive loss calculated on the basis on directions from CAG headquarters,” he said.
Courtesy : http://www.indianexpress.com