Government offers apex court to supervise spectrum probe

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NEW DELHI - The central government Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it had no objection to the court monitoring the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the 2G spectrum allocation scandal in whichever manner it wanted.

(The) government has no objection to the court monitoring the investigation as the government wants to establish its credentials,” Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium told the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly.

When Subramanium said that the government was not at cross purpose with regards to the investigation, the court said this meant that the purpose of the investigation is to find truth and the government is also interested in unearthing the truth. Thus, they are not at cross purposes.

The court asked the solicitor general to seek instructions from the government on the safe custody of the telephone intercepts of the conversations of corporate lobbyist Nira Radia with media and politicians.

Senior counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), earlier said the tapes should not be lost. He referred to the Mumbai’s Adarsh housing society scam case in which some important papers have gone missing.

Even as Subramanium told the court that the government was open to court monitoring the scandal probe, Bhushan said the supervision of the investigation should be done by two-three people who were “independent, competent and of impeccable integrity.

Appearing for the CBI, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal told the court we (CBI) will object to any outside supervision except for the statutory supervision.

After the apex court expressed its reservations on the objectivity of Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) P.J. Thomas in supervising the probe, Venugopal said the job of the supervision could be entrusted to the vigilance commissioner.

Subramanium told the court that the grant of licences and second generation spectrum to mobile companies in 2008 at 2001 prices was a part of the government policy that envisaged higher growth, lowers tariff and increased service provider revenue.

The policy was reiterated by the Telephone Regulatory Authority of India in 2003, 2005, and 2007 and even in 2010, he said.

This prompted the court to say: This (to award 2G Spectrum and licence at 2001 prices) did not emerge overnight.

Subramanium, without saying in so many words, made it clear that he was not holding brief for former telecom minister Andimuthu Raja. Any action which may be in conformity with the policy and law but is done for corrupt reasons is culpable, he said.

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