By Suresh Kumar
While the Opposition is doggedly demanding for a joint parliamentary probe into the 1.76 trillion rupee 2G spectrum scam, the voters of the country are still to be convinced on the productivity of such a probe. The BJP- lead opposition has not allowed the Houses to function for even a single day during the ongoing winter session, unrelentingly demanding JPC probe into the spectrum scam, but have they gone to through the outcome of the previous four JPC probes? The net result was nil.
The first JPC was constituted on August 6, 1987 to probe the infamous Bofors bribery case on a motion moved by the then defense minister K C Pant in the Lok Sabha. The allegations were pointed towards former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi. The JPC submitted its report on 26 April 1988. The opposition parties boycotted the JPC probe proceedings and the report was tabled. The net result was nil.
The Second JPC was constituted to inquiry into Harshad Mehta security scam. The recommendations of the JPC were neither accepted in full nor implemented by the government. Again the net result was nil. The third JPC was set up to inquire into Stock Market Scam. This committee was headed by the BJP member Lt Gen Prakash Mani Tripathi. The probe report was submitted on 19 December 2002. The recommendations in the report were not implemented.
The fourth and the last JPC was formed to investigate the allegations of pesticide residues in soft drinks, fruit juice and other beverages and to set safety standards for these drinks. The JPC was headed by NCP chief Sharad Pawar. The Committee found in its probe the presence of pesticides in the mentioned drinks and the report was submitted on 4th February 2004. Again the result was the same. By enlisting the results yielded by the previous JPCs I am not trying to oppose the Opposition demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the mega scam.
The ruling Congress has valid reason to vehemently oppose the Opposition demand for a JPC probe. Such a probe, if properly executed can expose the entire gamut of episodes and persons involved. The process of constitution of a JPC gives enough powers to the probe panel to exhume the truth and expose the culprits. (The JPC will have representatives from both Loksabha and Rajyasabha in 2:1 ration. If Committee has 10 Lok Sabha Members, 5 members will be from Rajya Sabha and total member of JPC will be 15.)
In fact, the JPC can collect oral or written evidence from the experts. Even the ministers, including the prime ministers come under the ambit of the probe panel. The Committee can inspect all documents even remotely related to the scam. JPC can summon all suspected parties to quiz. Non compliance of the summons is considered contempt of the House.
It is true the spectrum scam has cast a deep shadow on the image of the government in general and that of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in particular. His credibility is being questioned in public. The ruling Congress is scared, a JPC probe could further worsen the political climate for them, that too when assembly polls are just months away in some of the crucial states. When the ruling coalition is more than sure of that the media and public mood is foul, thanks to the series of scams and on top of all the 1.76 lakh crore spectrum scam, it will with all its might oppose any move for a JPC probe on any scandal.