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Cong finds note ammo

New Delhi, Nov. 15: Congress leader Digvijaya Singh today waved an internal note from the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office on the 2G spectrum probe which, he said, suggested a link between the country’s chief auditor and the BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi.

“Is it a fact that the Chairman PAC contacted CAG regarding 2G before submission of CAG report?” Digvijaya asked on Twitter. “It was denied by the CAG but now documents prove he did. With new facts coming in, (a) few questions arise. Was the figure inflated? Was it made in haste?? Was it at behest of Chairman PAC?”

Joshi was chairperson of the public accounts committee (PAC) that probed the 2G case.

The questions popped up on a day comptroller and auditor general Vinod Rai was quizzed by a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) examining the allocation of spectrum from 1998 to 2009.

Yesterday, the JPC had questioned R.P. Singh, principal auditor of the CAG who investigated the spectrum allocation of 2009. According to committee chairperson and Congress MP P.C. Chacko, R.P. Singh told the JPC that the CAG’s figure of presumptive loss from the scam Rs 1.76 lakh crore was a “mathematical guess”. Singh reportedly said he was “told” to sign the report despite his differences with Rai and his deputy Rekha Gupta.

Today, Digvijaya drew attention to an internal note from the CAG’s office. The note, written by R.B. Sinha, a director-general in the CAG, and dated July 13, 2010, is with the JPC now.

Sinha wrote that Joshi, in his capacity as chief of the public accounts committee, called him to request early submission of the 2G report and made a reference to a conversation he had with the chief auditor.

Sinha also mentioned that Joshi spoke of “tremendous pressure on him from parliamentarians, media, etc” about the probe, and if it was delayed further, “the executive would get time to cover up the issues”.

Digvijaya said: “What was the need for the chairperson of the PAC to call up the CAG’s office before the report was put before the government? These are certain things which need to be answered.”

Rai stood by his report when he appeared before the JPC. He said his decision to state notional loss estimates was backed by the statute. JPC chairperson Chacko quoted Rai as saying that the Income Tax Act of 1961 allowed him to give a presumptive figure as also the Direct Taxes Code. The taxes code, though, remains a bill pending enactment.

Asked if the committee agreed with his view, Chacko said the JPC had not made its inferences.

One JPC member reportedly asked Rai if there was an attempt to loop out R.P. Singh. Chacko implied that Rai did not give a direct answer. “He said there were a lot of leaks because of which in the final stage, the entire report was dealt with by the central office,” he quoted Rai as saying.

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