- Special Pages
New Delhi: Media reports quoting a former top bureaucrat that the prime minister ignored his note to hike 2G spectrum’s entry fee to Rs36,000 crore was “factually incorrect” and “concocted” and amounted to breach of privilege, the Lok Sabha Secretariat said yesterday.
It also added that the incorrect reports on the bureaucrat’s comments amounted to contempt of the parliamentary committee hearing it.
In a statement issued here, the Lok Sabha Secretariat, under which the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probing the 2G spectrum allocation functions, said the reports contained statements in quote purported to have been made by former cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar before the panel on Thursday.
“It is hereby clarified that what has been reported is factually incorrect and concocted. Chandrasekhar did not make any such statement before the committee during evidence,” the statement said.
The Lok Sabha secretariat also noted that on this part of the evidence during the hearing, JPC chairman P C Chacko had told the press that “he (Chandrasekhar) also informed the committee that a note was written by him on December 4, 2007, to the PM (prime minister) wherein he suggested the possibility of enhancing the licence fee keeping in view factors like increased tele-density, rapid expansion of consumer base, and inflation”.
Chacko also said that Chandrasekhar further informed the committee that “the PM was seeking views from various other ministries/departments on the issue at that point in time” and that the bureaucrat’s note “was in connection with the direction of the PM concerning media reports and various other letters received in the PMO (prime minister’s office)”.
“However, he (bureaucrat) conceded that several other aspects needed to be taken into consideration, including the Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) reports, before arriving at any conclusion in the matter.” Chacko had said.
In this context, the Lok Sabha Secretariat stated that “premature publication as well as publication of false or distorted report of evidence of a parliamentary committee amounts to a breach of privilege and contempt of the committee and, therefore, of the house”.
Rules and practice strictly prohibit publication of any part of the proceedings or evidence given before or any document presented to a parliamentary committee before such proceedings or evidence or documents have been reported to the house, it said.
The above position was clarified by the committee on privileges of the Lok Sabha in the Sundarayya case.
“It is with a view to keeping the media informed of the progress of examination of the subject by the JPC that the chairman has been briefing the press, giving the broad outline of the business transacted after every sitting of the committee. All reporting by the media relating to the sitting of the JPC is expected to be confined to the press briefing given by the chairman,” the Lok Sabha Secretariat noted.
Meanwhile, the BJP and the CPI yesterday sought a response from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on why he did not act on the advice.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad, responding to the claims of former cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar, said questions needed to be answered as to why the prime minister did not respond to the bureaucrat’s letter or take a contrary view and allow allocation of spectrum at a lower price.