SC tells CBI to prosecute top telecos, former secy

Probe agencys director had favoured action

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the CBI to proceed as per the opinion given by its outgoing director to prosecute top telecom companies, former telecom secretary and others in a case of excess spectrum allocation during the tenure of then minister Pramod Mahajan.

A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan gave the probe agency its go ahead after perusing the documents presented in a sealed cover containing the opinion of Attorney General.

“The CBI shall take actions in view of the opinion expressed by its director with regard to prosecution of certain persons and companies,” the court said in its order.

Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, submitted that the director of the agency A P Singh was retiring within two days. The court, however, said that it did not matter.

According to NGO CPIL, the CBI, while investigating spectrum scam in the period 2001 to 2007, allegedly found Rs 508.22 crore loss to the government with “active role played by Sunil Bharti Mittal of Bharti Airtel in connivance with the then Telecom Minister late Mahajan and Shyamal Ghosh, Secretary Telecom (Retired).”

The CBI had already filed an FIR a year ago on November 17, 2011 against Ghosh, J R Gupta, senior official, telecom department, Bharti Cellular Ltd Delhi, Vodafone Essar Ltd, Mumbai,Vodafone Essar Mobile, Delhi, and some unknown officials. If the CBI goes on to file a charge sheet in the matter, this would be the first instance where spectrum heat would be felt by the NDA government led by BJP.

The CBI was to tell the court on Thursday about the opinion rendered by Attorney General G E Vahanvati on the question if Sunil Bharti Mittal of Telecom major Airtel should be chargesheeted for his alleged role in the 2G case.

Venugopal handed over a sealed envelop to the bench and preferred not to read out the contents of the document in the open court. The bench, however, told the probe agency to move ahead with the opinion of its director. According to advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), CBI’s investigating officer, superintendent of police and others had recommended chargesheeting of Mittal.

But the Director of Prosecution (DoP) and his junior Special PP have opposed it. Director CBI has not taken any position on the issue and instead sought legal opinion using the excuse of “difference of opinion”, he said. Then Venugopal submitted that the CBI director has also agreed with the view of going ahead to chargesheet Mittal but the issue has been referred to Attorney General for seeking his opinion.

Bhushan had contended that the CBI found that there was undue haste shown on January 31, 2002 in this matter by the Telecom Minister and Telecom Secretary to favour Mittal by allocation of spectrum in an effort “to boost the investments in his company through the IPO which was opened (28.1.2002 to 2.2.2002) but did not receive encouraging response and needed positive news on spectrum.”

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