In the aftermath of the 2G scam, there has been a great deal of discussion on how Parliamentary Committees can be used for scrutinising the functioning of the government. Committee Reports are generally put in the public domain, but how transparent are the internal workings of the Committees themselves? As one measure of transparency, minutes of Parliamentary Committee meetings are included in Committee reports. The meetings themselves, however, are held behind closed doors. A number of other democracies allow in-person public viewing of some (if not all) Committee meetings. Several of these offer live webcasts of meetings as well. See options in Canada, New Zealand, Scotland, and the United Kingdom.
A Committee has been set up to examine appropriateness of procedures followed by the Department of Telecommunications in issuance of licences and allocation of spectrum during the period 2001-2009. The Committee will be chaired by retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Justice (Retd.) Shri Shivraj V. Patil. According to news reports the Committee is scheduled to submit its report by the first week of January 2011. The Terms of Reference (TOR) of the Committee have been listed as: 1. To study the circumstances and developments in the Telecom sector that led to the formulation of the New Telecom Policy 1999 and subsequently, introduction of 4th Cellular Telecom Mobile Service (CMTS) licence in 2001. 2. To examine the internal (intra-departmental) procedures adopted by DoT during the period 2001-2009 for: a. Issue of telecom access service licences, and b. Allocation of spectrum to all telecom access services licencees during the above period. 3. To examine whether these procedures were in accordance with existing policies and directions of DoT/Government. 4. To examine whether these procedures were followed consistently and if not, identify specific instances of: a. Deviation from laid down procedures; b. Inappropriate application of laid down procedures; c. Violation of underlying principles of laid down procedures. 5. To examine whether the procedures adopted were fair and transparent and were in keeping with the principles of natural justice and if not, identify the specific instances of lack of fairness and transparency. 6. To identify the deficiencies, if any, in the procedures as formulated and identify the public officials responsible for such deficiencies. 7. To identify the shortcomings and lapses, if any, in the implementation of the laid down procedures and identify the public officials responsible for such lapses. 8. To suggest remedial measures to avoid in future: a. Deficiencies in formulation of procedures; and b. Lapses in implementation of laid-down procedures.