NEW DELHI: Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs in the Finance Ministry R Gopalan on Thursday informed the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) that though the controversial March 25 note on 2G Spectrum was seen by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee that did not mean it was approved by the minister.
Gopalan, who appeared for the second consecutive day before the JPC, which is examining the allocation and pricing of telecom licences and Spectrum, said that while the original proposal was to put up the note for approval of Pranab Mukherjee, later it was decided to put it for perusal as there was no policy decision on it.
Citing the Law Ministry’s opinion on the term ‘seen’, some members asked Gopalan to explain the Finance Ministry’s opinion. Gopalan maintained that seeing a file does not mean approving it. Briefing on the questioning of the Finance Ministry officials, JPC chairman PC Chacko said: “Gopalan told the committee that approval is sought for a proposal or a policy decision. In cases where no approval is required files are often referred to Ministers and senior officials for them to see before they are sent forward. Finance Minister is aware of the contents of the note. That is the meaning of seen.”
The JPC had sought a legal opinion from the Law Ministry on the connotation of the phrase ‘seen’ on the controversial March 25 note on 2G Spectrum. The Law Ministry opined that ‘seen’ does not mean mere sight of the document.
The Law Ministry also opined that Finance Minister could have given a direction on the controversial March 25 note sent by his Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Chacko pointed out that files available with the JPC indicate that the Finance Ministry had protested to the Cabinet Secretary but after a stage there was no further communication on the issue.