SC says it will monitor CBI, ED probe

SC says it will monitor CBI, ED probe

A Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly directed both CBI and ED to submit their probe reports to the court on February 10, 2011, the next date of hearing.
“The progress reports based on the investigations conducted by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate shall be produced before the court in sealed envelopes on 10.2.2011,’’ said the judges in a packed court room.

Expanding the scope of investigation, the Bench ordered the CBI to probe grant of licences from 2001 to 2006-07 “with particular emphasis on the loss caused to the public exchequer and corresponding gain to the service providers and also the issue of allowing use of dual/alternate technology by some service providers…’’

In its direction, the Bench said, “The CBI shall conduct thorough investigation into various issues highlighted in the report of the Central Vigilance Commission, which was forwarded to the Director, CBI vide letter dated 12.10.2009 and the report of the CAG, who have prima facie found serious irregularities in the grant of licences to 122 applicants, majority of whom are said to be ineligible, the blatant violation of the terms and conditions of licences and huge loss to the public exchequer running into several thousand crores rupees.’’

The CBI has been asked to probe the issuance of licences to some real-estate companies which were not even eligible to set up a telecom service providing company.
“Why the TRAI and the DoT did not take action against those licensees who sold their stakes/equities for many thousand crores (Rupees) and also against those who failed to fulfill rollout obligations and comply with other conditions of licence,’’ the Bench wondered.

In a stern direction, the Bench said the investigating agencies should conduct the probe without being influenced by any officer, agency or authority.

The CBI has been directed to probe the role of some officials of Department of telecom and banks- both government-owned and private - for granting huge loan in 2008 to the telecom companies before the issuance of letter of intent allotting 2G spectrum.

Radia tape cases

The agency has been further directed to go beyond the scope of the present FIR and probe if there could be any more cases against some people on the basis of the conversation tapped by the Income Tax department between public relation consultant Nira Radia and other people.

On Radia tapes, the Bench said that the CBI submitted that it had conducted raids, collected voluminous records and copies of the tapped conversation. CBI counsel K K Venugopal submitted that “the CBI will submit further progress report to the court within eight weeks and try to complete the investigation by the end of March, 2011’’.
The Bench allowed the appeal filed by the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), against the Delhi High Court, which had rejected the plea for CBI investigation into the irregularities in the grant of licence for 2G spectrum.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for CPIL had sought direction to institute a special investigation team (SIT) to monitor the probe by the CBI. However, the court accepted the contention of both the government and the CBI that the central investigating agency had always conducted investigation objectively and there was no need for an external authority to monitor it.

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