CBI was on Wednesday asked by the Delhi High Court to respond to a plea for cross examination of the Minister for Personnel and Training in a case related to alleged masking of international calls as local ones by erstwhile Reliance Infocomm for two years from 2000.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued notice to the probe agency and sought its reply by April 29, 2013 on an application filed by P C Srivastava, a lawyer and an RTI applicant in this case, alleging that CBI has failed to explain the reasons for not naming the Ambani brothers for past several years and wanted to question the minister or the CBI officer dealing with the case before the court.
"The working of CBI is reflective and it appears that the agency is merely doing formality of investigations and only implicating small offenders and filing chargesheet in petty offences, on the other hand, malafidely saving the skin of big offenders...," the petitioner said.
"It is necessary in the ends of justice as well as to prevent the abuse of process of the court and direct the Minister Department of Personnel and Training by fixing a Date for his appearance for cross examination on behalf to arrive at a definite conclusion," Srivastava said in his plea.
Similarly, the lawyer also sought an order fixing a date for the cross examination of the CBI officer who has filed the affidavit in this court in the case.
The court was hearing a plea filed by Union of India challenging the CIC's May 26, 2011 order directing the probe agency to disclose by June 20, 2011 to Srivastava its reasons for not naming Ambani brothers in the case, despite having named several top officials of Reliance Infocomm.
The CBI had taken up the probe in 2006, a year after Reliance industry was divided between the feuding siblings - Mukesh and Anil. Reliance Infocomm went to Anil and was rechristened Reliance Communications.
The agency had refused to disclose information to the RTI applicant, saying doing so would affect its prosecution in the case.
"Disclosing such information would provide clues to other accused in the case by which they would be able to argue why they too should not be charged," the CBI had said.
"Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act exempts disclosure of information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders".
In July 2010, the CBI had filed a charge sheet before a Chennai court against the Reliance Infocomm officials Manoj Modi, Akhil Gupta, Shankar Adawal, Pankaj Powar, K R Raju and Bhagwan Das Khurana in the case.
After the charge sheet, Srivastava had sought to know from the CBI the reasons for not making Ambani brothers as accused in the case relating to the alleged manipulation and tampering of calling lines and thereby passing off international calls as local ones and thus causing loss to the government and its PSUs, BSNL and MTNL, worth crores of rupees.