Evidence of wrongdoings in 2G spectrum grant: Supreme Court (Second Lead)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Thursday said there was prima facie evidence of wrongdoings in the grant of licences for 2G spectrum in 2008 and those for dual-use technology to some telecom operators prior to Oct 19, 2007.

The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly allowed the plea of the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) for court monitoring of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe in the spectrum allocation scam.

The court said the allegations of wrongdoings in spectrum allocation made in the CPIL’s plea were supported by reports of the Central Vigilance Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General.

The judge said the CBI would conduct a comprehensive probe into the scam in coordination with the Directorate of Enforcement and the income tax department covering the period 2001-07.

The investigating agency would submit the first status report of its investigations Feb 10, 2011, the court said.

The court said there was no requirement for setting up a special investigating team to probe the scam.

The judges said the CBI would conduct investigations without being influenced by any person or authority.

The director general of income tax would provide the transcripts of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia’s telephone taps to the CBI, the court directed.

The court also asked the investigating agency to probe how ineligible companies got the licence for the 2G spectrum and why no action was taken against those telecom operators who failed in their roll-out obligations (ROO).

The CBI would also look into why the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) did not take any action against the grant of licence to ineligible companies and those who failed in their ROO, the judges said.

The court said that the CBI could register FIR in respect of the officials and people who caused huge loss to the exchequer in the controversial transactions.

The CBI would also look into the conduct of the department of telecommunications officials who signed on the loan applications of telecom companies for securing loans from public sector banks, the court said.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, senior counsel Prashant Bhushan welcomed the court order expanding the scope of the CBI probe into the spectrum scam.

He said that now the investigating agency will probe the 2G spectrum muddle in its entirety, starting from 2001 to 2007.

The probe will go into the role of the department of telecommunications (DoT) officials who signed bank loan papers of telecom operators, he said.

“The apex court order has expanded the scope of the investigations into the 2G spectrum scam,” Bhushan told IANS.

He had argued the case on behalf of NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), which has sought the court monitoring of the CBI probe into the scam.

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