2G case: PAC likely to call PMs Principal Sec, Cab Sec

New Delhi: Fast-tracking its probe into the 2G scam, Parliament`s Public Accounts Committee is likely to call Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister T K A Nair, Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar, CBI Director A P Singh as also corporate lobbyist Niira Radia over the next few weeks.

The Committee, headed by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, will also call senior journalists whose names figured in the infamous tapes involving politicians, industrialists and journalists besides Editors of `Outlook` and `Open` magazines which had published those tapes.

The CBI chief, who had appeared before the PAC on February 15, today met Joshi. Sources said it was a prelude to his possible appearance before the Committee prior to March 31, by when the agency has to file a chargesheet against former Telecom Minister A Raja.

`Outlook` Editor Vinod Mehta and `Open` Editor Manu Joseph have been called on March 14, sources said here today.

The two magazines had recently published transcripts of the taped conversations which purportedly pertained to influencing some persons to ensure that A Raja was made the Telecom Minister during formation of the UPA-II government in 2009.

The Committee is likely to scrutinise the role of the Prime Minister`s Office (PMO) in the controversial allocation of 2G spectrum in 2008, which CAG said had cost the national exchequer Rs 1.76 lakh crore in terms of presumptive losses.

In this regard, Nair and Chandrasekhar are likely to be called to seek clarifications on the communications between the Finance Ministry, the Department of Telecom and the PMO on the allocation of 2G spectrum.

"After listening to the views of the then Finance Secretary (and now RBI Governor Duvvuri Subbarao), it is necessary to get the views of the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary to the PM," a source said.

Subbarao, who was the Finance Secretary when the 2G spectrum allocations were made in January 2008, had appeared before the PAC on February three.

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the government had said on the issue of 2G allocation the finance secretary had raised certain queries on November 27, 2007, regarding the entry fee. A reply to this was given by the telecom secretary on November 29, 2007.

Sources said the two top officials could be asked questions based on the Prime Minister`s recent statement that the Finance Ministry and Telecom Ministry had concurred on the issue, as a result of which he did not press the matter further.

When Subbarao appeared before the PAC, he was asked whether the file pertaining to the 2G spectrum allocation was closed as there was no further communication. To this, Subbarao is understood to have replied in the negative.

Members had then felt that the Department of Telecom (DoT) had virtually stonewalled attempts by the Finance Ministry on the pricing of spectrum and the issue of technology neutrality as they were kept out of the terms of reference of the Group of Ministers on the subject.

The list of persons to be called by the PAC includes Radia and two senior journalists who figured in tapes, the sources said, adding they could be summoned in the next two weeks.

A P Singh, who took over as chief of the investigation agency on November 30 last year, had assured the Committee that he would get back to it with more details when he had first appeared before the Committee on February 15.

During the first interaction, he was asked about the methodology used by the agency to calculate the losses caused by the alleged irregularities in the 2G spectrum allocations.

He had said he would be unable to accurately quantify the loss to the exchequer as his focus was on unravelling the criminal aspect of the alleged scam.

The CBI Director had said he would get back to the Committee with details.

While CBI has already sent written replies to questions posed by the Committee, he may be asked to appear again to answer some of the supplementaries orally.