India-2G Spectrum case

From the 2G spectrum allocation case, it appears that a ministry/department in the Government can do whatever it thinks correct, even when there are objections from other ministries and that the other ministries are helpless. But this is not the case. The Government has rules and regulations and checks and balances which make it difficult for any ministry to go ahead with its decision amidst objections from other ministries.

Even when it is not a major policy issue, if two ministries have different views, the matter should be referred to the Cabinet Secretary, who may if necessary call for an inter-ministerial meeting, to sort out the differences or refer the matter to the Cabinet for decision. In the 2G spectrum case Ministries of Law and Finance are reported to have expressed views different from that of the Department of Telecommunication. Therefore the matter should have been discussed in an inter-ministerial meeting and then put up to PM/ Cabinet for approval. The Department of Telecommunication itself should have proposed the inter-ministerial meeting.

In order to avoid recurrence of such cases, it would be useful if Cabinet Secretary issues circular to all Secretaries reiterating the procedures and also call for a meeting of all Secretaries to impress on them the need to follow the procedures and the consequences if procedures are not followed. Guidelines should also be issued as to the matters on which it is mandatory for a Minister to seek approval of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister can either take a decision or seek the views of the Cabinet.

Departmental proceedings (action) should also be initiated on those who do not follow the procedure and cause loss to the government.

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