Vinod Mehta, Manu Joseph Appear Before PAC

New Delhi
Vinod Mehta, Manu Joseph Appear Before PAC
Editors of two news weeklies appeared before Parliament's Public Accounts Committee in connection with the alleged 2G spectrum allocation scam as panel member N K Singh, whose conversations figure in the Radia tapes, recused himself from the proceedings.

The PAC recorded evidence of Vinod Mehta and Manu Joseph, Editors Outlook and Open respectively, which carried transcripts of the phone conversations corporate lobbyist Niira Radia had with others.

The recordings had exposed among other things the efforts made by Radia, who represented top corporate clients, to get DMK leader A Raja the job of Telecom Minister after the UPA won the Lok Sabha elections in May 2009.

PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi said the two senior journalists were frank and vouched for the authenticity of the taped conversations. They said none of the corporate players named in the tapes had contested the contents that were published in the two magazines.

Mehta and Joseph appeared separately for recording their evidence. Later, both the Editors refused to make any comments to the media saying they were bound by law not to disclose the proceedings.

"It was definitely not grilling by the PAC," Joseph said.

Mehta was all praise for Joshi lauding him for being "very thorough" and doing his homework. "He asked good questions," he said.

Mehta said the DMK member of the committee asked pointed questions and sought evidence regarding the taped conversation. He did not elaborate further.

The PAC had earlier sought the Radia tapes from Outlook which they had refused to part with.

"There were many tapes but they (the news magazines) had published only matters related to 2G," Joshi said adding that the Editors told the committee that the intention behind publishing the conversations was to bring forth the faults in the system.

"It was clear from the evidence that the editors had no intention to target any person in particular. They had done their journalistic duty," the PAC chairman said.

Joshi also clarified that N K Singh, whose conversation with Radia was also published in the magazines, had offered to recuse from the hearings with regard to the Radia tapes.

"He (Singh) has voluntarily recused and the Committee did not ask him to do so," Joshi said.

The PAC chairman said corporate entities like Uninor, Reliance and Tata had submitted their objections to the findings of the CAG on the 2G issue.

"These objections had been referred to the Department of Telecom, CAG and SEBI for clarifications," Joshi said.

Joshi said the PAC has not yet taken a decision on calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to appear before it.
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