M A I N   N E W S

PM to announce JPC probe today
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 21
The three-month old impasse over Oppositionís demand for a JPC probe into the 2G Spectrum scam will end tomorrow, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, before the Question Hour begins, informing Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar the government intent to constitute the panel.

This was revealed at the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting held in the Speakerís chamber immediately after the Presidential address today, the first day of the Budget session. A complete motion to constitute the JPC along with the composition and the terms of reference shall be moved on February 24, said Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, which government sources confirmed later.

The proposed committee could have either 21 members or 30 depending on the governmentís will. In case there are 21 members, then 14 will be from the Lok Sabha and seven from the Rajya Sabha. And if there are 30 members, then 20 will be from the Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha, the LoP explained.

The decision about summoning the Prime Minister, if at all, will be taken by the committee itself, she said.

That still left some grey area about the simultaneous functioning of both the JPC and the PAC, which is already probing the 2G scam. While Law Ministry felt the PAC became irrelevant once the JPC was constituted, because he explained the PAC itself is a joint parliamentary committee and it made little sense to have two joint parliamentary committees look into the same issue with similar terms of reference, PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi and the government felt there was no option but to see both functioning simultaneously.

ďAfter all, isnít parallel CBI investigation under the Supreme Courtís supervision going on simultaneously in the same issue, asked Joshi and the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry sources endorsed this view.

Immediately after the Prime Ministerís announcement tomorrow, the Lok Sabha will start the discussion on the motion of thanks on the Presidential address, which will carry on till the first half of February 24 session. It will conclude with the Prime Ministerís reply to the motion of thanks. After this, the government (most likely Communications Minister Kapil Sibal) will move the motion for the JPC. The debate will end with the House passing a resolution for the constitution of the JPC and urging the Rajya Sabha to join the JPC, whereupon it will go to the upper house.

Meanwhile, Sushma Swaraj also clarified that the BJP and the entire Opposition has given up on their demand for a JPC on other two issues namely the bungling in Commonwealth Games and the Adarsh Housing Society scam in Mumbai. Sushma said, ďWe agreed to give up on the other two demands in the interest of restoring normalcy in Parliament during Budget session.Ē

On February 25, the Railway budget will be presented and the Economic Survey will be tabled in Parliament. The Budget will be presented on February 28. 





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