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SC Directs Probe Into 2G Spectrum Allocation Since 2001

New Delhi, Dec 16 :  The Supreme Court today directed the CBI and Enforcement Directorate to carry out investigations into the 2G spectrum scam by bringing in its ambit the telecom policy since 2001. A
PTI December 16, 2010 17:22 IST
New Delhi, Dec 16 :  The Supreme Court today directed the CBI and Enforcement Directorate to carry out investigations into the 2G spectrum scam by bringing in its ambit the telecom policy since 2001.

A bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly made it clear that the emphasis of the investigation would be to determine the loss of money to the public exchequer and a progress report on the probe has to be filed by the CBI and ED in a sealed cover on the next date of hearing on February 10, 2011.

The bench allowed the appeal filed by 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.

"The High Court has committed serious error in dismissing the writ petition. Prima facie, there was sufficient material supported by documents to proceed on the llegation," the bench observed.

The bench said that the report of the Central Vigilance Commission and the findings of the CAG needed impartial investigation.

However, there was no need for a special team to investigate the scam as the government has agreed for court-monitored investigation which is moving in the right direction and Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium and senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for CBI, have assured that there will be comprehensive investigation by the two agencies (CBI and ED), the bench said.

"Accordingly, we are giving directions that the CBI shall carry investigation based on the CVC report and consider the findings of CAG which has prima facie found that
ineligible entities were granted licences," the bench said.

It said that how licences were granted to the ineligible operators has to be investigated and as to why TRAI did not take action has to be looked into.

The bench said that the CBI should consider the investigations done by the CVC and the findings of the CAG on the irregularities, which according to it, were blatant
violation of norms.

The bench further said that the investigation will also cover why roll out obligations were not fulfilled.

Further, it asked the investigating agencies to probe the transfer of dual technology -- CDMA and GSM, saying while the notification for the dual technology was issued on October 19, 2007, one of the service provider was given the permission a day earlier.

The investigation shall also cover huge loans by public sector banks and if DoT officials were signatory to the licence agreements, the bench said.

The bench directed the CBI and ED to carry out investigations without being influenced by any individual,their ranks, functionaries and agencies.

The bench asked the Directorate of Income Tax to hand over the transcripts of the tapped conversations carried out under the order of the Home Secretary to the CBI.

The court had reserved its judgement on December 8 after hearing arguments forwarded by CPIL, CBI, Enforcement Directorate, Department of Telecommunication and former Telecom Minister A Raja who resigned from the cabinet in the wake of the scam. PTI

Welcoming the Supreme Court decision to monitor the probe into the controversial 2G spectrum allocation, Law Minister M Veerappa Moily today said the government has nothing to hide on the issue.

"This is what our government had said (in the Supreme Court)...we have nothing to hide. That's why we wanted the Supreme Court to monitor the CBI investigation," he told reporters here.

He said he was happy that the apex court has agreed to the government's request to monitor the probe.

BJP today welcomed the SupremeCourt direction to CBI to carry out probe in the 2G spectrum scam from 2001-08, which includes part of the NDA tenure, but insisted that only a JPC probe could bring out the whole truth.

"We fully endorse the instructions of the Supreme Court in the scam involving more than Rs 1.76 Lakh Crore. Having said that, BJP still strongly demands creation of a JPC and we reiterate this demand," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

Asked if BJP had any issues with the period to be investigated by CBI as per the SC directives, Rudy insisted that his party had even agreed to a probe from 1998 onwards.

"We welcome the period of investigation which CBI has to look into from 2001-08. In fact, BJP had even said we can have the investigations from 1998. Infact, my friends in the Congress will now have no alibi whatsoever to say that period has been left out," Rudy said.The principal opposition has also expressed happiness at the time-bound investigations with the apex court directing CBI to file a report by February 10, 2011.

However, BJP is still firm on its demand for a JPCprobe. "The Supreme Court direction in no way dilutes our stand. In fact, it vindicates the stand taken by the BJP and the entire opposition," Rudy said.He maintained that the CBI would only investigate the"criminal conduct" whereas a JPC would look into all aspects of the scam.

"There are several aspects like why the Prime Minister did not give sanction to prosecute A Raja for 11 months,Raja's contention that PM was taken into confidence on the decisions taken, and how some people lobbied that Raja gets the Telecom Ministry. CBI has a mandate only to investigate corruption charges," Rudy said.