“This will be useful in 2G probe with increasing reports on Maran's alleged role”
Amid unconfirmed reports that Shahid Usman Balwa, Swan Telecom promoter and one of the accused in the 2G spectrum scam, has expressed his desire to testify before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury has requested the Chairman of the Committee, P.C. Chacko, to circulate among the members all his letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the subject from February 2008.
A few days ago Mr. Balwa, currently lodged in the Tihar jail, told a Delhi court that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should have made Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a witness in the case, citing the correspondence between him and the then Telecom Minister, A. Raja, who is the main accused.
In his letter addressed to Mr. Chacko on Wednesday, the CPI(M) leader noted: “With increasing media reports emerging on the alleged involvement of other previous Ministers for telecommunications like Dayanidhi Maran, the circulation of this material to the JPC [members] would, in my opinion, be helpful in our investigations.”
The letter said that as these matters were brought to the attention of the Prime Minister from as early as February 2008, it would help the JPC to ascertain a response or any follow-up action from the government side.
Mr. Yechury said the Comptroller and Auditor-General, in a presentation to the JPC, had concluded that “the entire process of allocation of 2G spectrum in January 2008 lacked transparency and objectivity.”
The CPI(M) leader had first written on the telecom issue to the Prime Minister in February 2008 weeks after the Department of Telecom issued 121 licences. The second letter was sent in November 2008 and the third in May 2010.
“Clearly, the Prime Minister had forwarded this letter to the Minister for Telecommunications, who replied to the points raised in my letter after 10 months, on March 18, 2011...This letter was dated after the constitution of this JPC to examine these matters,” Mr. Yechury said.
The CPI(M) said that it was not clear whether the Prime Minister's Office had re-directed his earlier two letters to the Telecom Ministry.
“It would be useful for our consideration in the JPC to obtain the responses of the DoT to these letters,” Mr. Yechury said.
The JPC Secretariat, in a statement, referred to some media reports that the JPC had taken a decision to summon the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, as a witness before the Committee and said that no decision had been taken yet on the list of witnesses to be summoned.
The JPC Chairman had been receiving suggestions from members on persons to be summoned as witnesses before the Committee.
The JPC will be briefed at their next sittings by the representatives of the CBI on June 7 and by representatives of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the Departments of Revenue and Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Finance, including the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Board of Direct Taxes and the Financial Intelligence Unit on June 8.