http://bharatkalyan97.blogspot.com/2011/09/2g-scam-did-cbi-go-through-subramanian.htmlSubtleties of bureaucratic practices
B. S. RAGHAVAN
The Office Memorandum (OM) No.F.No.3/11/2011—Inf(Part) dated March 25, 2011 of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance, sent under the signature of Dr P. G. S. Rao, Deputy Director, Infrastructure & Investment Division of the DEA to Ms Vini Mahajan, Joint Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), says that it is enclosing “a copy of the basic facts prepared on the allocation and pricing of 2G spectrum”.
Some sections of the media, including The Hindu, have erroneously stated that “The covering letter to Mr Rao’s note says: “Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee approved the note after personally inspecting the 11-page document.”
The covering letter says no such thing. It only states that “This has been seen by the Finance Minister.” In this column, I shall not go into the merits of the contents of the enclosure which purports to give a “chronology of basic facts”.
Nor will it be my effort to find answers to the questions which had wormed their way into the lexicon of every commentator or investigator after the Watergate scandal: Where is the smoking gun and who was found to be holding it? Who knew what, and how much, and when?
The matter is in the safe and competent hands of the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court, and their eagerly awaited findings will no doubt bring a lot of clarity to the general public’s understanding of the true state of affairs. At this stage, I am only sharing with readers my knowledge of the subtleties and intricacies of bureaucratic usages and practices.
I find it necessary to do so as fair-mindedly and dispassionately as I can, because in all my nearly six decades of having served as a bureaucrat and dealt with bureaucracies both in India and abroad, I have never seen more heat generated and a more exhaustive exegesis of a text undertaken than in the case of this OM and its enclosure. Particularly, the word “seen” has been subjected to minute scrutiny as to its precise connotation.
SOLEMN AND WEIGHTY
First, an Office Memorandum, in official parlance, is taken to be a solemn and weighty document carrying with it the authoritative stamp of the Department or Ministry issuing it. It is not to be mistaken for a mere note of the kind confined to files or handed by officials to each other by way of interpreting, clarifying, explaining or elaborating an issue.
The person signing it, whether with or without its being seen by his superiors, does so on behalf of the Ministry/Department concerned, regardless of whatever rank, title or designation is held by him. So long as the OM is reflective of the settled stand of the Ministry, the signatory can be an Under-Secretary or sometimes even a Section Officer.
Thus, the OM on spectrum pricing, even without an express reference to the Minister having seen it, is to be viewed as an authoritative exposition of the Ministry’s perspective on various stages of dealing with the issue by Ministries, Departments or agencies involved.
In this case, the official has taken the additional precaution of adding that the OM has been seen by the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee. No official of a Ministry, however high, will dare to make such a categorical statement without its being actually shown to the Minister with a clear indication of the office (PMO) to which it was being sent and with an explicit mention of the fact of the Minister having seen it on the body of the OM
It is always open to the Minister to stop its dispatch if he did not agree with it. The unambiguous meaning of his permitting its issue is that he has approved its contents. This is a principle that harks back to British days and is followed in every well-oiled bureaucracy even today.
Hence, any attempt on the part of Mr Mukherjee or the Government to quibble their way out of a centuries-old universally-accepted practice will deal a mortal blow to the harmonious relations based on trust and confidence that should prevail between Ministers and civil servants.
(This article was published on September 28, 2011)
28 SEP, 2011, 02.21AM IST, ET BUREAU
2G scam: Did CBI go through Subramanian Swamy allegation, asks Supreme Court
During the course of the hearing the bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly asked Swamy about the fate of his complaints before the magistrate on the 2G scam. “Has it been investigated. Has any chargesheet been filed on your complaint,” the court asked.
Talking about CBI’s response, the court said, “their best argument is that chargesheet is filed in the case and hence no further investigations can be ordered”. To this Swamy replied: “There has been no investigation into my complaint and no chargesheet has been filed. My case is that so much material has come out… why not investigate it. CBI says only Raja is guilty. I am only saying probe into the documents to ascertain whether Chidambaram had any meeting of mind with Raja or not on spectrum pricing.”
Swamy said that there were two offences alleged in his complaint. “One relating to spectrum prices and the other about the offloading of stakes by spectrum licence holders before meeting rollout obligations to Etisalat and Telenor.” he said. Quoting Raja, Swamy said the former telecom minister’s letter of September 22, 2009, had said that the then finance minister had cleared offloading of stakes by Unitech and Swan on the ground that dilution of shares to invite foreign investment was not sale of shares.
Earlier. government threw its weight behind the beleaguered home minister and told the court that that it was opposed to a CBI probe against him. “There is no need to pass any order on the interim application (filed by Swamy),” senior advocate PP Rao, appearing for the Centre told the bench. The arguments will continue on Wednesday.
But during the hearing, CBI raised objections to the Centre’s stand that the investigating agency will be looking into the documents placed by Swamy and file a status report before the court. “CBI is autonomous and independent,” CBI counsel and senior advocate KK Venugopal said, adding an impression has been created in the section of media that the agency was defending Chidambaram. Meanwhile, jailed former minister A Raja made a strong plea in the Supreme Court to recall its order of not granting bail to 2G scam accused before the framing of charges in view of delay in the proceedings in the trial court.
Senior Advocate Sushil Kumar, appearing for Raja, contended that it should be made clear whether the probe in the case has been completed or not after the CBI had taken different stands before the Special CBI court and the apex court. “In the trial court, the CBI says the investigation is complete but in the Supreme Court it says that probe is still going on. In the meantime, I am suffering and I want to know what is the status of the probe whether it is on or has been completed,” he said.
2G case: CBI opposes government stand on Subramanian Swamy’s plea
IANS | Sep 27, 2011, 04.49PM IST
Subramanian Swamy is seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe against Chidambaram alleging that the spectrum price was not decided by jailed former communications minister A. Raja alone but was jointly fixed by the two.
Nothing new in FinMin letter, CBI tells SC
|BS Reporter / New Delhi September 28, 2011, 0:22 IST|
Even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s arrival from New York was awaited here, law minister Salman Khurshid called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi to brief her on the latest controversy between finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and his predecessor, P chidambaram, on the 2G spectrum allocation.
In court, counsels for the central government and the Central Bureau of Investigation tried on Tuesday to shield home minister Chidambaram from fresh investigation in the scam, but they differed in their approaches. While the government maintained it was for the trial court to decide on a fresh probe, based on the new documents portrayed as a rift between Chidambaram and present finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, the CBI said it had already studied the evidence in question and had found nothing new in it.
CBI counsel K K Venugopal told the court it had examined some 40,000 pages of evidence in the 2G scam and what was produced in the court last week by Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy was only a summary of the findings made in March this year. It did not find any need to launch a fresh probe based on the documents sent by the finance ministry to the prime minister.On the government’s saying the CBI would consider the new documents and may file a status report, Venugopal stressed it was an autonomous body and nobody could speak on its behalf. Since the documents had already been examined, there was no question of fresh investigation, Venugopal said.
The bench of judges G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly adjourned the hearing till tomorrow . Subramanian Swamy last week filed the controversial documents which showed that Chidambaram, when finance minister in the UPA-1 government, was aware of the policy on allocation of spectrum which is now the subject matter of the scam. Swamy wanted an investigation into the role of Chidambaram, alleging jailed ex-telecom minister A Raja and the former had colluded to push forward the policy, causing losses to the exchequer.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, who was in Kolkata on Tuesday said he would speak on the finance ministry’s note only after the PM’s return. ” I am going back to Delhi by tomorrow evening. If there is anything to be told after talking to the prime minister and my other colleagues, I will make my comment,” he said. The government on Tuesday also reiterated there was no tussle among senior ministers. It also played down a late night meeting yesterday between Mukherjee, Khurshid and the minister of state inthe PM’s Office, V Narayanasamy.
“The matter is in the court and the Supreme Court is monitoring it and JPC is looking into it. It would not be proper to discuss this issue now,” Narayanasamy told reporters when asked whether the 2G issue came up at the meeting. “I meet the finance minister twice every week to discuss Parliament issues. I met him yesterday to discuss routine government matters.”
However, opposition parties yielded no ground at all. During a stormy meeting on Tuesday of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the controversy, members of the opposition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the CPI(M) joined hands to demand that finance secretary R S Gujral and department of economic affairs (DEA) R Gopalan be present during the next meeting. They told JPC chairman P C Chacko that no business of the committee should take place till both officers were present.
“Why should we get to know about documents related to the 2G spectrum through the media? If the Union government purposely didn’t submit the document to the committee, then it is breach of privilege or else it was a serious lapse on the part of the government,” said a senior member.
As a result of the pressure, the committee cancelled its scheduled meeting tomorrow and would now meet on October 12, when the finance secretary and DEA secretary would be asked to clarify their stand.
“The next obvious people for whom a demand would be made are Mukherjee, Chidambaram and officials of the PM’s Office. We will have to take prior permission from Lok Sabha Speaker to call Union ministers and we are hopeful of getting it,” the JPC member said.
JPC members also protested that when finance secretary Gujral had appeared before committee on June 8, he hadn’t told it about the note sent by the finance ministry to the PMO.
- WEDNESDAY, 28 SEPTEMBER 2011 02:47
- PNS | NEW DELHI
User Rating: / 0
The Congress on Tuesday dismissed the demand for Home Minister P Chidambaram’s resignation reiterating that he has committed no mistake. Downplaying the Finance Ministry’s controversial note which has blamed Chidambaram for not preventing the 2G spectrum scam by insisting on auction, Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi said controversy is unnecessarily being built around the note while matter is not so big.
Meanwhile, Law Minister Salman Khurshid met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and reportedly discussed the political and legal implications of the note. Though the party is defending Chidambaram and is confident that the matter will be resolved, it realises that a lot depends on the stand Supreme Court will take on Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea to investigate Chidambaram’s role in 2G spectrum scam.
Flaying Swamy for his comment that CBI probe into 2G scam has been truncated, Alvi said his thinking has always been destructive, and the whole country knows “the kind of politics he does”. He also attacked BJP for demanding Chidambaram’s resignation saying, “BJP does not look in its own backyard and keeps on heaping allegations on others.”
Prime Minister sees campaign under way to destabilise polity
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the mounting campaign by the Opposition against his government could be part of a campaign to “destabilise our polity.”
“The issues on which the United Progressive Alliance government is now being judged date back to 2006 or so,” Dr. Singh told journalists on board his flight home from New York, “after which the people have voted in support of our performance. This is why I suspect that there is some other agenda at work.”
The Prime Minister declined to answer a question seeking elaboration on who might be responsible for the destabilisation.
Dr. Singh was dismissive of the mounting furore at home over the 2G spectrum scandal, saying: “the Opposition is getting prematurely restless.” He was emphatic, though, that the government would survive its full term. “The government has a mandate from the people to govern for five years, and it will stay the course. The Opposition should be patient until the elections.”
He denied that there was a feud between Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister P. Chidambaram over the 2G scandal. “The rift that you talk about is only in the media. This is a cohesive government. There is no dissension. There is no truth in what has been written in the media about a rift between Mr. Chidambaram and Mr. Mukherjee,” he said.
UPA policies successful
Dr. Singh argued that the United Progressive Alliance most politically-damaging failing — its failure to rein in inflation — was the consequence of international factors beyond its control. “Even China, with its successful economy, suffered a food inflation of 30 per cent in August,” he noted.
“Food prices,” he said, “are by and large stable. What is not stable is the price of vegetables, fish, eggs and so on. This is a sign, paradoxically, of the success of our policies.”
In spite of the global economic crisis, Dr. Singh said, India had registered between 6.7 per cent and 8.5 per cent growth. “Even in this troubled year,” he promised, “our growth rate will be between 7.8 and 8.5 per cent.” “We can do better if the government is allowed to do what should be its principal task, which is to push growth to 9 per cent.”
Pushing through a slew of legislation for this purpose, he added, needed Opposition cooperation.
Case for Kudankulam
Dr. Singh had special words of praise for Tamil Nadu, which he noted was now the fastest-industrialising State in the country. “I feel very proud when I go there,” he said. This achievement, though, could only be sustained if Tamil Nadu achieved energy independence — for which the Kudankulam project was necessary.
“It is my honest expectation that, sooner or later, the world will realise that there is no alternative to having atomic energy as part of the fuel mix of a country,” he said, “and I have no doubt that the leadership of Tamil Nadu will not be an exception.”