SC slams CBI over 2G scam probe

SC slams CBI over 2G scam probe

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday slammed Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for its ‘slipshod’ investigations into the 2G spectrum allocation scam, in which the alleged role of telecom minister A. Raja has come under the scanner, saying ‘the same minister is still continuing today’.

“You (CBI) have not done anything. The matter is serious. The same minister is still continuing today. Is that the way the government functions? Do you follow the same standards in respect of everyone? One year has (already) gone by," a bench comprising Justices G. S. Singhvi and A. K. Ganguly said.

The remarks of the bench came as soon as Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Haren Raval began responding to the submissions made by the counsel for an NGO which has brought the issue before the apex court.

The ASG said the enormity, complexity and volume of the documents involved in the issue required some more time to complete the investigation.

“We have so many phone calls to examine," Raval said. However, his submission was cut short by the Bench which said “it’s only slipshod. You are dragging your feet".

Raval then resumed his submission and said the complex nature of the issue was the reason the investigations into the scam has taken some time.

He said that to maintain continuity, the investigation is being carried out in right earnest and senior officials of competence are conducting the investigations into all aspects of the matter.

At this point, the bench shot back “will it take another 10 years?" The ASG replied the investigation will be completed within six months. After this, the bench wanted to know about the response to the draft reports of the CAG which had pointed out that the scam on 2G spectrum allocation caused a loss of Rs1.4 lakh crore to the exchequer.

The counsel, appearing for the Centre, said Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium was to argue in the matter but was not available due to ill health.

Senior advocate T R Andhyarujina, appearing for Raja, said the response to the CAG report has been given by the Department of Telecom.

He claimed a totally ‘wrong impression’ has been given by filing draft reports of the CAG to ‘sensationalize’ the entire issue.

The senior advocate said selective portions were brought to the notice of the court and the minister’s reply to the Chief Vigilance Commission was not read out.

“The Minister has given a complete answer to the CVC," Andhyarujina said. He also narrated the sequence of events as to how CVC directed CBI to look into the matter last year and how in a day after the search conducted at the office of the DoT, FIR was registered, which led to the raid in the offices of some private companies.

“This was an unprecedented move," he said adding all the files are with CBI and “in this state of affairs we could not file a reply".

Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy, who has sought the court’s direction to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to sanction prosecution of Raja for his alleged involvement in 2G spectrum scam, said he would prove the charges made by him. He said the Prime Minister would only have to see whether “I have a prima facie case or not".

“If not, I will come back to this court," Swamy said while making it clear that his case was different from that argued by advocate Prashant Bhushan who was appearing for the NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).

He said he was not for CBI probe or monitoring of the investigations by the apex court.

“Let the Prime Minister decide my petition. I know he is a politician and he may have some difficulty in it," Swamy said.

The court adjourned the matter to 15 November as Gopal Subramanium was not present due to ill health. The bench said it will hold a thorough hearing when Subramanium appears before the court on the next date and it would like to have answers to some of the questions.

Meanwhile, over CPIL’s allegations of transfer of controlling stake of Anil Ambani group firm ADAG in Swan Telecom, which was also allotted 2G spectrum, to a firm based in Maurititus, the apex court asked Prashant Bhushan to coordinate with Raval on this side.

Bhushan alleged that a day after the Reliance group firm was allotted 2G spectrum under the dual technology regime, ADAG group sold its 95 stake in the Swan Telcom held through Tiger Trustee.

“We still do not know who has bought ADAG’s stake in Swan Telecom. It’s still unknown. CBI might be knowing it," he said adding that under Raja’s regime spectrum was allotted to many ineligible firms by flouting all the norms and Swan was one of them.

He submitted many real estate and finance firms having no experience in the sector were allotted spectrum in 2007, on the prevalent price of 2001 without any auction and bidding.

“After getting the spectrum, they sold it on current price and earned money. DoT also allowed it to be sold without realizing that it would hurt its policy of providing telecom density at cheaper price," Bhushan said adding the whole scam was nothing but an “open-and-shut case and no detailed investigation is required".