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CAG faces tough queries at JPC meet

 NEW DELHI, May 30 – The CAG today came in for some tough questioning at a meeting of the JPC on its presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer in 2G spectrum allocation with some members questioning its mandate of looking into a policy decision for arriving at the figure, reports PTI.

Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai, who briefed the JPC on the allocation and pricing of telecom licences and spectrum during 1998 to 2009, maintained that the auditor acted within its constitutional mandate.

During the meeting of the Committee, some members pointed that telecom regulator TRAI had taken a “definite decision” that the spectrum 800-900-1800 Mhz bands should not be auctioned.

“That being a decision of TRAI and that being a policy decision, how come the CAG has come to the notional loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore...Policy is not a matter which is a subject matter of audit. It is a government decision,” JPC Chairman P C Chacko told reporters here quoting members.

He said some members also wanted to know whether the CAG took into account the policy prescription of the government before arriving at the figure of presumptive loss.

When asked about the reaction of the CAG on the issue, Chacko said Rai maintained that the government auditor acted “within mandate” while into the 2G spectrum allocation issue.

Sources said during the three-and-a-half hour long meeting, Congress member Manish Tewari sought to know the constitutional mandate of the CAG in looking into policy decisions of the government.

At this, Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) said besides following the mandate, the CAG also follows certain conventions.

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