SC asks govt to respond to CAG report on 2G spectrum scam

A Bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly asked Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium to go through the the draft report alleging that the Ministry of Telecom ignored the advice of the Law Ministry and the Prime Minister and alloted the license by favouring "ineligible" companies at the lower rate on first-cum-first basis by arbitrarily deciding the cut off date.

The Bench posted the matter for October 22 without perusing the status reports filed by CBI and Enforcement Directorate into the investigations in the case.It returned the reports filed in sealed covers to both the agencies stating that it will consider them during the next date of hearing.

Raja was represented by senior advocate T R Andhyarujina who was asked to be supplied with the copy of the CAG report.

Earlier, Subramanium said he would like to allay any apprehension that investigations would not be fair. "We are bound to conduct fair investigation," he added.
However, he said it would be premature to say anything at this stage about the final conclusion of the investigations in which more than one government agencies are involved.

The Solicitor General said FIR relating to the scam was registered against unnamed persons a year ago and the matter has undergone judicial scrutiny in the Delhi High Court and the apex court.

"Today, we have a situation where co-ordination is required between CBI and other government agencies like ED, Income Tax department and others," he submitted and pleaded that six months time be granted for a comprehensive probe.

He said transcript of the tape involving telephonic conversation between several persons, including corporate lobbyist Nira Radia and some journalists, have to be examined as it has a bearing on the allocation of 2G spectrum.

However, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO which has alleged financial irregularities by Raja in connivance with certain middlemen including Niira Radia, alleged the probe by CBI was not fair as even after the registeration of FIR a year ago, none of the persons has been interrogated or arrested.

He said neither Raja nor Radia has been interrogated or arrested till now despite the tapped conversation clearly throwing sufficient light on their alleged involvement in the scam. Further, the Income Tax officer, who was handling the transcript of the tapped conversation and was co-ordinating with CBI, has been transferred, he alleged.

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 the 2G spectrum scam, said he would prove the allegations made by him.

He said there are chances that CBI probe into the scam will be scuttled.Bhushan supplied to the Bench the extract of the CAG report mentioning that the Swan Telecom owned by Reliance Communication benifitted although it did not meet the eligibility criteria on the date of the application.

According to the CAG report, the scam has caused a loss of approximately Rs 1.40 lakh crore to national exchequer.

He said the allegations made by the NGO Centre for Public Interest litigation (CPIL) in the petition has been endorsed by the CAG report that the prices were arbitrarily fixed at the rate which was prevalent in 2001 for the spectrum allocation in 2008.

The CAG report has said that there has been "consistent favouritism to ineligible applicant" and "undue benefits to Reliance Communication," he submitted.

The apex court is hearing two petitions on the issue. The first petition was filed by CPIL on which notices were issued to the Centre, Raja, CBI, ED and Income Tax department.
The second petition has been filed by Swamy challenging the Delhi High Court order which rejected his plea to give direction to the Prime Minister to grant sanction to prosecute Raja on the ground that it was pre-mature to pass any order as the investigation is being carried on by CBI.

In response to the notices issued on the petition of CPIL, CBI and ED have filed their affidavit stating that they were not in a position at this stage to confirm or deny charges that Raja was involved in the alleged Rs 70,000-crore scam.

However, ED has said the investigations were on against the companies that allegedly violated foreign exchange norms in the 2008 award of telecom licences.The Bench had on September 13 wanted to know how CBI did not know against whom the investigations were on despite continuing the process for several months and filing an FIR against unnnamed Telecom Ministry officials.

Replying to this, CBI had said it was probing the matter in a "fair and impartial" manner and that it was not in a position at this stage to deny or agree with the charges.
Reacting to the petition filed earlier this month, Raja had said that the entire controversy was politically motivated.

Along with Raja, the names of certain public servants, middlemen and Radia have surfaced for their alleged involvement in the conspiracy for granting Unified Access Service (telecom) licences.

The ED affidavit said the alleged FEMA violations by Loop Telecom and Essar Group was being looked by ED on the basis of specific written complaints.

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