Virtually rejecting its Chairman K V Thomas’ view, the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament on Friday decided that the Prime Minister will not be called before it after BJP members strongly objected to the Congress leader’s remarks that he may be asked to appear in the demonetisation issue.
The decision came after a storm was kicked up by the ruling party members on Thomas’ statement earlier this week that the PAC can call Prime Minister Narendra Modi to depose on the note ban issue. Referring to the Speaker’s directions related to the rules overseeing financial committees and those concerning calling Prime Minister/Ministers, the committee said in a release, “Ministers shall not be called before the Committee either to give evidence or consultation in connection with the examination of estimates of accounts. “However, Chairperson, when considered necessary but after its deliberations are concluded, may have an informal interaction with the Minister.”
BJP members including Nishikant Dubey, Bhupender Yadav, and Kirit Somaiya raised the issue of Thomas’ statement and said the committee does not have powers to summon the Prime Minister.
In the meeting, Thomas is believed to have clarified that what he meant was that the Committee can summon the Prime Minister if it takes a unanimous decision and cautioned against “killing the institution”. The statement said officials may be called to give evidence in connection with the examination of estimates and accounts relating to particular ministries as per the existing rules but not Prime Minister or Ministers.
PAC chairman K V Thomas told Millennium Post that they (PAC) could have an informal interaction with a concerned minister if needed. Thomas also called Friday’s PAC statement “unanimous”.
Meanwhile, it is learned that some committee members claimed that they were kept in the dark on the decision to summon PM and RBI governor. They also claimed that the issue was not even discussed in the previous meetings.
However, Thomas dodged this query and added: “I have specified what the rules say. I also have my limitations as chairman of a committee.”
“As I said earlier also that if anybody goes through the functions of PAC, they will find that there are precedents of PACs summoning serving Union ministers. During the UPA government too, PAC Chairperson Murli Manohar Joshi had taken the decision to summon the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in connection with the 2G scam,” Thomas pointed out. He also said that the next meeting of PAC is on January 20 and the RBI governor may be summoned.