New Delhi: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday came down heavily on the PMO and the Cabinet Secretariat for not taking "corrective action" in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, and even chided Prime Minister for "some unfortunate omissions".

The panel further concluded that there was "multiple systematic failures" in preventing former Telecom Minister A Raja from executing the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

Approving the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the PAC report blames "systematic failure" in the government and severely indicted Raja, the then IT and Communications Minister, for allegedly selling second generation telephony spectrum licences to private firms at throwaway prices despite a letter from Manmohan Singh asking him to consult others, according to a panel member.

"Prime Minister's Office's role is under scanner but Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) is not," sources said.

Sources also said the panel in its six-month investigation has found that the Prime Minister was kept out of the loop on 2G spectrum allocation even as he had advised Raja to consult a group of senior ministers over how to allocate the spectrum and how much to charge for it.

"The committee has brought it to the notice that there was a delay in sending the Prime Minister's letter to Raja. Raja took advantage of the delay and sold the spectrum at cheap rates," the member said, adding the delay was from the PMO.

Asked if the report gives clean chit to Manmohan Singh, the members said, "Yes, to some extent."

Raja and eight others, including top corporate honchos and bureaucrats, are in jail for conspiring to sell the 2G airwaves to select companies at throwaway prices. Five others, including DMK Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi, have been named as co-accused in the case.

The report has also criticised the role of P Chidambaram who was the Finance Minister in 2008 when the spectrum was sold.

"It was Chidambaram who pleaded with the Prime Minister to close the matter despite some ministers wanting stringent action against those responsible for the losses," the member said quoting the report.

However, the report had a word of praise for the then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee who had in a note to the Prime Minister revealed that he had underlined the
responsibility of the government to frame, revise and change the policy in a transparent manner and then follow it in letter and spirit.

The report is likely to be adopted by the 22-member panel Thursday in its last meeting before its term ends on April 30. The report is to be tabled in Parliament's next session before being made public officially.

Ironically, the 22-member panel headed by Bharatiya Janata Party's Murli Manohar Joshi has a sharp division within.

Cong-Oppn head for a showdown

Riled by critical comments against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the ruling coalition accused Joshi, a veteran BJP leader, of having "malafide intentions" to destabilise the government after he circulated a draft report of the Committee.

The report will be discussed on Thursday at a meeting of the PAC which is likely to be stormy. With the strength of the two sides delicately balanced in the 21-member committee, the role of SP and BSP, which have a member each on the PAC, will be
important.

The PAC has seven representatives from the Congress, four from BJP, two each from AIADMK and DMK, and one each from Shiv Sena, BJD, JD(U), SP, BSP and CPI(M).

Joshi is keen on pushing the report before the term of the current Committee ends on Saturday. But the ruling coalition members are expected to stall the report by seeking
further discussion and calling more witnesses, including former Telecom Minister A Raja in a bid to prolong the process.

Soon after the draft report leaked, members of Congress and DMK went into a huddle and made it clear that they had got no time to study thoroughly the voluminous report of 280-odd pages and would like to study it properly.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Congress members KS Rao, Saifuddin Soz and Navin Jindal and DMK member T Siva attacked PAC chief for "hurriedly" pushing the report
for "political mileage".

Alleging that Joshi had wanted to "destabilise" and "defame the cabinet and government", Rao said the draft report seems to have been prepared in a "pre-determined manner with
biased mind and malafide intention."

Apprehending that Joshi might table the report in Parliament without views of members of ruling party, he demanded resignation of Joshi as head of PAC.

Jindal alleged several things mentioned in report are wrong and they would raise these issues one by one tomorrow's meeting.

The meeting on April 16 did not take place and so the evidence of Principal Secretary to Prime Minister TKA Nair and Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekar could not appear but the
report states that they had appeared, Jindal said adding that it suggests that the report has been prepared before April 15.

The Congress and DMK members said they had wanted Raja to appear before the committee as per the principle of natural justice as he was the main accused but the chairman rejected it.

JPN/Agencies