BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab steps down from PAC sub-panel


New Delhi: Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Bhartruhari Mahtab on Monday stepped down as the head of a sub-panel under the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), weeks after submitting a report on the Bofors gun-deal case.

The PAC, headed by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, has not taken up the report on the Bofors gun-deal case and Mahtab was recently shifted from the Bofors panel and put in charge of a relatively insignificant sub-committee, sources said.

“I am surprised to find that for the first time a sub-committee (on excesses over voted grants and charged appropriations) is formed of this nature. Never before such sub-committee has been formed,” Mahtab said in a letter to Kharge.

“I am of the opinion that there is no need for formation of this sub-committee, as the work-load under this nomenclature is not very much. Those to witnesses are seldom called to depose on the said subject. If this be the case, what for, you have formed this sub-committee,” the BJD MP wrote in the letter.

Mahtab further said, “As I believe that there is no necessity to have a sub-committee on excesses over voted grants and charged appropriations (2016-17), I decline to be associated with it. I am expressing my views to the Hon’ble Speaker, Lok Sabha relating to the formation of sub-committee of the present PAC, separately. I would be happy if my name is deleted from this Sub-Committee of PAC.”

Sources said a sub-panel headed by Mahtab, the seniormost member of the PAC, had submitted a report on the Bofors gun-deal case to Kharge in April this year. The case is reportedly pending before the PAC for almost 27 years.

Sources said Kharge had formed just two sub-panels under the PAC this year, as compared to more than half-a-dozen panels last year.

He had also removed Mahtab from the panel, which was looking into the non-compliance of certain aspects of the CAG reports of 1989 and 1990 on the Bofors Howitzer gun-deal.

The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report on Bofors is the oldest pending matter before the PAC, the main function of which is to examine a CAG audit report after it is placed in Parliament.

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