Citing an old rule, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman K V Thomas today defended his earlier contention that the panel has the power to summon a Cabinet minister, including the Prime Minister.
The rule that empowers the PAC to summon a Cabinet minister, including the Prime Minister, has supremacy over a contrary direction of the Speaker, he said.
Batting for strengthening one of the oldest committees of Parliament, Thomas said a rule framed years ago states that the PAC can summon a Cabinet minister provided there is a unanimity on the issue and the Speaker permits it.
“But at the same time, there is a direction of the Speaker — also framed years ago — that the committee cannot summon a Cabinet minister.
“The rule is above Speaker’s direction,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
He said since the Prime Minister is “first among equals”, the panel can summon him too.
Thomas was asked to explain whether the Prime Minister can be called by the PAC.
The then prime minister Manmohan Singh had offered to appear before the PAC on the 2G scam issue. BJP veteran M M Joshi was then heading it.
Thomas, however, hastened to add that it does not mean that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be summoned by the panel.
“All I am saying is that PAC needs to be strengthened. It is the mother of all parliamentary committees,” he said.
BJP MP and PAC member Nishikant Dubey had recently sought to move a privilege motion against Thomas, alleging that the latter used the panel to “lower the dignity” of the PM by claiming to summon him.
During a press conference in Kochi recently, Thomas had said the PAC, which is examining the demonetisation decision, had the power to call even the PM on the issue.
The PAC, in a statement later had clarified that the PM would not be called.
Thomas’ third consecutive term as PAC chairman ends on April 30.
(With PTI inputs)