2G JPC unlikely to call ministers, report in budget session

New Delhi, Feb 5 (IANS) The parliamentary panel examining the 2G spectrum issue is likely to wrap up its evidence gathering by next week without calling on any minister to depose, and submit its report in the upcoming budget session.

"The panel will wrap up its evidence gathering exercise and start preparing the draft of the report," Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) chairman P.C. Chacko told reporters here Tuesday.

The first half of parliament's budget session is scheduled Feb 21-March 22.

Chacko said he hopes to submit the report by March end so it can be discussed in the second half of the budget session in April-May.

No ministers are likely to be called to depose before the JPC as the panel is set to wrap up its evidence gathering Feb 12, official sources said.

Earlier, the BJP members had boycotted the JPC proceedings after their demand to call Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was rejected by the panel chief.

Later, the BJP leaders dropped their demand and started attending the JPC meetings.

On Feb 12, Central Bureau of Investigation director Ranjit Sinha will brief the panel on the status of the probe the agency is conducting in the 2G scam.

The panel will later question Telecom Secretary R Chandrasekhar to corroborate the evidence collected by it so far.

On Tuesday, Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati told the panel that his "trust was belied" on the change in first come, first served policy used in the allocation of spectrum by then telecom minister A. Raja and that change was never discussed with him.

Vahanvati was solicitor general then.

"Vahanvati said he offered his opinion to the then telecom secretary on the four-paragraph press release shown to him on the premise of trust but his trust was belied," Chacko quoted Vahanvati as saying.

"Vahanvati said he was not aware of the deletion of one paragraph in the final press release issued...the amendment in the release led to qualitative change in the selection process (of private players who got spectrum licences)," Chacko quoted Vahanvati as saying.

According to Chacko, Vahanvati told the panel that the "policy of first come first served was not illegal per se".

Chacko noted that Vahanvati said he had mentioned this point in the controversial note written on the issue by then external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee to the prime minister.

A report of the official auditor contended that the government incurred presumptive loss worth Rs 1.76 lakh crore in allocation of 2G spectrum licences.

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