SC seeks widening of 2G scam probe ambit

SC seeks widening of 2G scam probe ambit

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday favoured widening of the ambit of the ongoing probe into the 2G spectrum case, saying it should also include the period since 2001 when first-come-first-served was the norm for spectrum allocation.

“The issue raised in the case is not only limited to Rs1.76 lakh crore but has a much wider compass. We would not like to prejudice the probe. But, what happened in 2001 needs to be looked into. It is for the CBI to investigate and find out," a bench of justices G. S. Singhvi and A. K. Ganguly said.

The judges’ remarks assume importance as former telecom minister A. Raja has maintained that he was treading on the footsteps of his predecessors and was following the 2001 policy.

In 2001, government was not following the policy of auction but was allocating spectrum on first-come-first-served basis.

The apex court also remarked about the policy of transfer of dual technology -- CDMA and GSM, saying that while the notification for the dual technology was issued on 19 October, 2009, one of the service provider was given the permission a day earlier.

“What T. R. Addhyarujina (counsel for A. Raja) has pointed out is one thing more than what meets the eyes," the bench said.

The bench further said that even the CAG has not gone into the issue of dual technology.

“This matter has not been investigated," the bench said. "Why don’t you go into the matter from 2001," the bench said, noting that the prices for allocation of spectrum on first-come-first-served basis was fixed at that time.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), meanwhile, submitted its report on its probe into the scam to the court in a sealed cover.

Submitting its report to the court, Additional Solicitor General Haren Rawal told the bench that it contains details of the investigation since 9 March, 2010 in the case that was registered under Prevention of Money Laundering Act and Foreign Exchange Management Act.

He said the probe was carried on the basis of the case related to the scam, registered by the CBI on 21 October, 2009.

The report details the investigation carried out till 29 November, 2010. The bench, meanwhile, ruled out the CBI’s suggestion that the court should deliver its orders and directions in the 2G spectrum case in a sealed cover.

“Giving orders in sealed cover will not be conducive to the administration of justice," the bench said.

“The functioning of the court and the hearing of the case or the order of the court is not influenced by any criticism. Whether its a munsif court or the Supreme Court, it has to act in its wisdom keeping in mind the Constitution and the public interest," the bench said, dismissing the CBI’s suggestion.

The bench said the hearing in the case is being done in open court and everything has been reported and added that despite there being some distortion at times in the (news) reports, all this will have no effect on the court proceedings.

“Giving orders in sealed covers may not be conducive to administration of justice. It is not warranted as it will give rise to speculation, rather wide speculation", the court reiterated.

“Let us go by our own norms," the bench observed. At this point, senior advocate K. K. Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, said it is for the court to decide whether to deliver its orders in a sealed cover or in the open court.