Every letter of Swamy dealt with, PMO says in affidavit (Third Lead)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Prime Minister’s Office Saturday told the Supreme Court that every communication received from Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy was duly responded to in action, and the decision to grant prosecution of then telecom minister A. Raja could not have been taken without carefully examining the evidence collected by the CBI.

The affidavit filed on behalf of the prime minister said the union ministry for law and justice had advised the Prime Minister’s Office that “the decision to accord sanction of prosecution may be determined only after the perusal of the evidence (oral or documentary) collected by the investigating agency, i.e. CBI, and other materials to be provided to the competent authority.”

The affidavit was filed by director in PMO, V. Vidyavati. It said that the advice tendered by the assistant legal advisor in the law ministry on Feb 08, 2010, was “duly approved by the Minister of Law and Justice”.

The law and justice ministry gave its advice following a reference to that effect by the Prime Minister’s Office to the Department of Legal Affairs May 29, 2009.

Before the said reference to the Department of Legal Affairs, the question that arose before the PMO was “whether there was any ground at all for considering such a request” seeking sanction for the prosecution of Raja for his alleged involvement 2G spectrum scam.

It the course of the deliberations in the PMO it was also pointed out that “in earlier cases where sanction was sought to prosecute a minister, a decision was taken after obtaining the opinion of the Ministry of Law and Justice”.

The affidavit also said a letter written by Swamy to the prime minister in October 2009 acknowledged that he was aware of the steps being taken on his application.

This acknowledgment of the steps taken by the prime minister to look into the allegations on the 2G spectrum controversy would be focused on by the government when the matter comes up for hearing in the Supreme Court Tuesday, sources said.

This communication by Swamy to the prime minister would be used to say that Swamy held back from the court some vital information he had in his possession and did not reveal everything to the court, the sources noted.

The Prime Minister’s Office sought the opinion of the law ministry in May 2009 on Swamy’s application seeking prosecution of Raja under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the affidavit says.

The law ministry replied in February 2010 that since the probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was on, the prime minister need not give any sanction. Having said so, the affidavit notes there was no delay on the prime minister’s part in replying to Swamy’s application of Nov 20, 2008, seeking to prosecute Raja.

The affidavit gives the details of how every letter from Swamy was adequately dealt with.

The 10-page affidavit also gives details of the steps that the PMO took in pursuance of Swamy’s communications.

An apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly Thursday directed the PMO to file the detailed affidavit after Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium told the court that each of Swamy’s letters to the prime minister has been replied to and steps taken on them.

Swamy has denied having received any communication from the Prime Minister’s Office except for one that he received in March 2010.

Swamy said he had on Nov 20, 2008, written to the prime minister seeking permission to launch proceedings against Raja.

A report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has indicted Raja in the scam and for causing a presumptive loss between Rs.58,000 crore ($12.8 billion) and Rs.1.76 lakh crore ($40 billion) to the exchequer.

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