IT is an unseemly and undesirable war. Parliament is not a forum to play war over turfs. The Constitution has envisioned Indian Parliament as the apex body and has endowed it with wide powers and wisdom to chart out a course that suits the nation best. It has not put any restriction. The makers of the statute book knew that a nation is an evolving process and it needs flexibility and adaptability to stir through crises. The rule books of both, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, have also been kept as simple as possible. Nowhere is it rigid. That is Indian ethos.
Now it surprises everyone that the newly constituted Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) chairman PC Chacko, a member of the ruling Congress combine has started firing salvos at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, BJP leader. He wants virtually Joshi to stop the detailed investigations into the CAG report on 2G scam. Has Joshi exceeded his brief? An astute politician, a revered academician and a person known for adherence to values, Joshi is expected to carry out his duties with utmost integrity and devotion. Is that the concern of Chacko?
Chacko has repeatedly raised the question of duplication of the investigation process. Nothing can be farther from truth. PAC, Dr Joshi knows, has the mandate to go into the CAG report, a constitutional obligation. The JPC has no such restriction. It is supposed to function like an-all party investigation agency to find out how the policies and processes could be manoeuvred to deceive the nation and loot Rs 176,000 crore – a staggering sum for a nation that could not even fund its health sector. It need not restrict itself to CAG audit observation. So where is the question of duplication?
The JPC was constituted for the wide mandate that it has. It can take the probe to any direction that it deems fit. The PAC does not have such powers. Had it been so the nation would have accepted the wisdom of the ruling combine and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who opposed the setting up of JPC tooth and nail. They agreed to set it up only under the pressure of a combined opposition, who represented the will of the nation.
Chacko is only echoing the voice of the Congress Party. It has no relevance.
Yes, Chacko has a bigger concern. The parliamentary panels could give reports that would be different. It is expected. Even now many Parliamentary Committees give views that are not only different but may at times be contradictory, though that is rare. This is how a vibrant democracy and its Parliament functions. Why should Chacko be scared of the divergence of views or recommendations or findings? As JPC chairman he is supposed to function in an unbiased manner. He represents Parliament and not the ruling combine. By convention JPC is headed by a ruling party member. There is reason too. It is not to give the government an alibi to accuse it of a bias or allow it to do politicking on a sacred document that JPC is supposed to give.
If the PAC and JPC differ, what is the harm? The nation would be able to know about the different views that may eventually lead to the same truth. It is too much to expect that only one committee could be repository of all wisdom.