SC asks CBI to pursue big telecom firms

SC asks CBI to pursue big telecom firms

SC asks CBI to pursue big telecom firms

A Bench of justices G S Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly also asked the government to constitute a special court to try those involved in the spectrum scam. The CBI has so far arrested four persons, including former telecom minister A Raja and Shahid  Balwa, promoter of DB Realty which floated Swan Telecom, after registering an FIR in the case.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati sought two weeks from the court to inform it on its suggestion for setting up of a special court exclusively for trial of the case. “The government must come out with an assurance that it will set up an exclusive court. There is no parallel to this case and we want the authorities concerned to give it top priority,” the court said.

“This investigation has led to prima facie conclusion about the culpability of four persons. What about the beneficiaries? They are part of a larger conspiracy. We want to know about them. You (CBI) tell us what action you are planning to take,” the Bench said.

After going through the status reports filed by different agencies, including the CBI, the Bench asked the agency to proceed against the corporate biggies who played any role in the scam, which caused the government a presumptive loss of
Rs 1.76 lakh crore as per the CAG’s estimates.

“There are a large number of persons who think themselves to be the law. The law must catch them. It should be done with greater expedition. Merely they being on the Forbes list or they are millionaires does not make any difference,” the Bench said.

The court expressed its anguish after advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Centre for Public Interest Litigation, an NGO, pointed out that the agencies had not questioned the heads of several companies including Swan Telecom, which was controlled by Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group at the time of spectrum allocation.

“Why has the CBI not taken any action in this regard? Top authorities of the companies were not questioned. It is surprising that the managing directors were not summoned,” the court remarked.

It also favoured a free hand be given to the probe agency to unearth the conspiracy and expressed its surprise over its move to seek remand of the accused for only a short period.

“There is something which is surprising. The CBI must have a free hand to question anyone. Whether its freedom is curtailed by seeking short remand....complexity is involved. “It is a very complicated matter. We feel that the investigating agency must be given free hand. Otherwise, the whole purpose of the investigation is frustrated,” it said.
Notably, Raja was remanded to CBI custody once for five days, then for two days and on Thursday again for four days.

Appearing for the CBI, senior advocate K K Venugopal sought one month’s time to complete the probe in the matter and assured the court that the chargesheet would be filed by March 31. To this, the Bench said it will scrutinise the draft chargesheet before it is filed in the special court.