New Delhi: The Supreme Court overruled the Delhi high court, and took cognizance of charges of corruption levelled against communications minister A. Raja by admitting a public interest litigation (PIL) to the effect.

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Raja has been given 10 days to reply to the legal notice which alleges that he caused a loss of around 70,000 crore to the exchequer while granting telecom spectrum and licences to firms wishing to enter India’s booming mobile telephony market in 2008. The development could be potentially embarrassing for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and provide fresh ammunition to the Opposition.

Called to account: A. Raja. Ronjoy Gogoi / Hindustan Times

The PIL claims the direct involvement of the minister and senior officials of the department of telecommunications, and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Notices were also served to the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) lawyers as well as the the Enforcement Directorate and director general of income tax.

The PIL was filed by senior counsel Prashant Bhushan on behalf of the Center for Public Interest Litigation, Telecom Watchdog (both activist groups) and journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta. It seeks a court-monitored CBI probe or the creation of a special investigative team.

CBI has been investigating the case since 21 October, but the petitioners argue that it is deliberately going slow because Raja belongs to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, a coalition partner of the Congress in the UPA. They approached the apex court after the high court dismissed their plea on 25 May.

Sitaram Yechury, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader said: “We have been demanding that the case should be taken to its logical conclusion. The court also has said that it should be followed in right earnest."