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SC Begins Hearing On Plea Against Chidambaram

PTI [ Updated 04 Apr 2012, 19:09:03 ]
SC Begins Hearing On Plea Against Chidambaram

New Delhi, Apr 4: The Supreme Court today began hearing the plea for investigating the alleged role of Home Minister P Chidambaram in the 2G spectrum scam with an NGO claiming that he was in the know of all developments relating to fixation of price for allocation of radio waves.  

The bench of justices G S Singhvi and S Radhakrishana, which was reconstituted after the retirement of Justice A K Ganguly, took up the plea of an NGO, which approached the apex court after the trial court had given a clean chit to Chidambaram.

The Court also directed CBI, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department to file a status report to update it on their probe in the 2G spectrum allocation case within three weeks.

The application filed by an NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), submitted that a “thorough investigation” was required to probe the role of Chidambaram, who was the Finance Minister when spectrum was allocated to telecom companies during the tenure of former Telecom Minister A Raja in 2008.

A similar petition has also been filed by the Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy which would also be taken up by the court.

The NGO, on whose plea the apex court is monitoring the probe in the scam, contended that there is evidence showing that Chidambaram was “micromanaging everything and was keeping a close eye on all developments” on the spectrum allocation.  

The petitioner annexed a series of documents and media reports to substantiate its claim about the alleged involvement of Chidambaram in the scam.  

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the CPIL, submitted that Chidambaram was very much aware of the decision taken by Raja and he was also involved in the issue of fixing price for 2G spectrum.

He said the alleged role of Chidambaram was needed to be probed as all through the Finance Ministry officials and the documents suggested that the scarce spectrum should be sold through auction or the price should be fixed three-and-half times more than that of the 2001 rate which was overruled by Raja.

The NGO said Chidambaram was aware of the critical reports appearing in media about the price of the spectrum and had asked officials to track all those reports.  

Bhushan narrated the sequence of events from January 3, 2008 and January 8, 2008, the day the letters of intent were issued to companies for the spectrum till April 22, 2008 when deliberations were going on how the radiowaves could be sold at the price prevailing in the year 2001.  

At the end of the hearing, senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, said argument by the NGO were based on the same documents on which the apex court had decided the issue earlier.

“Same facts are replicated and the application is not maintainable,” he said.

However, Swamy countered his submission that the apex court had said there is no case for further investigation against Chidamabaram.

The Janata Party Chief said the apex court had simply said that the trial court may proceed with the matter.  After hearing Bhushan’s arguments, the Bench adjourned the case to April 11.