Speaker will decide on PAC draft report: Sibal

New Delhi: HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has termed the draft PAC report on 2G Spectrum allocation as “not a report” because it has not been adopted by the Parliamentary Committee, but said it is for Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar to decide on the matter.

“The PAC Chairman (Murli Manohar Joshi) himself said he had adjourned the meeting. So obviously for a report to be adopted, it has to be adopted either unanimously or by a majority. In any case it was not adopted by a majority, so there is no report,” Mr. Sibal told Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN’s Devil’s Advocate programme.

He was asked to comment on the status of the PAC report submitted by Mr. Joshi to the Speaker.

“For it to be an official report it has to be adopted. So when did the adoption take place? Who adopted it? Was it done unanimously or by a majority? It is nobody’s case that this was done,” Mr. Sibal said.

However, he made it clear that whatever decision the Speaker takes on the status of the PAC report would be acceptable to the government.

“Naturally the government has to accept… We are bound to. The Speaker is the Speaker,” he said, in reply to a question. In this particular case the Speaker “will decide the matter”, Mr. Sibal said.

Recalling the April 28 meeting of the PAC which witnessed high drama, he said the 11 members — 9 from the Congress-DMK combine and one each from BSP and SP — of the PAC gave letters to Mr. Joshi to the effect that they were rejecting the report.

Asked whether the proceedings that took place after Mr. Joshi had adjourned the PAC meeting had any significance, Mr. Sibal said, “The votes have been submitted to the (Lok Sabha) secretariat.”

He refuted media reports that the SP and BSP members had not submitted letters stating they were rejecting the report and had merely demanded that more time should be given to the issue.

When told that the PAC chairperson has to be from the Lok Sabha and a Rajya Sabha member could not have chaired the meeting after Joshi’s adjournment, Mr. Sibal said it was common law that any person can act as the presiding officer, though “not as chairman”, for a particular meeting.

Congress member from Rajya Sabha Saifuddin Soz had ’chaired’ the PAC ‘meeting’ on April 28 after Joshi had adjourned it.

Mr. Sibal said he was “deeply dismayed” at the recent developments in the PAC.

Mr. Sibal charged Mr. Joshi with failing to take all members of the PAC on board on the 2G spectrum allocation issue.

“The objective of a PAC meeting is to evolve a consensus. Consensus means you discuss matters with the members… You discuss who should be called…. which documents should be called… You fix a date according to the convenience of the members,” Mr. Sibal said.

The eminent lawyer maintained that it was difficult for the PAC members to go through a 270-page report with 62 pages of annexures in a day.

Some of the Congress members in the PAC had told Joshi that they could not read the report as the time given was too short.

“Most members told me they came to know of the witnesses only through the newspaper reports… no documents were circulated. If the genesis of the process as perceived by members is partisan this is bound to happen,” Mr. Sibal said.

Mr. Sibal denied that the government has now turned against Joshi though it had praised the PAC and its chairperson while refusing to form a JPC on the 2G issue.

“The government has not turned against anybody. It is the members of the committee who have turned against Mr Joshi,” Mr. Sibal said.

He described BJP President Nitin Gadkari’s charge that four ministers were directly coordinating with the Congress and DMK members in PAC as “absolutely absurd”.

During the interview, Mr. Sibal alluded to the BJP being the culprit in leakage of the draft report.

Asked about charges that the Congress had leaked the report, Mr. Sibal shot back, saying, “Congressmen leaked the report which is dead against the Congressmen themselves to vilify the Congressmen.”

He alleged that the purpose of the leak was “to damn people before the report sees the light of day“.

“Logic suggests that somebody interested in the leak leaked it. The government was certainly not interested in the leak,” he added.