The CBI on Monday told the Supreme Court (SC) that it has in its possession 5,851 call recordings, many of them 30-40 minutes long, of corporate lobbyist Nira Radia with various people. Radia has been accused of fixing mobile bandwidth licences on behalf of some corporate houses. DMK leader A Raja resigned as telecom minister earlier this month in the wake of the 2G spectrum scam.
The investigating agency, which admitted for the first time that the tapes were given to it by the income tax (I-T) department, said it had heard around 3,500 call records. CBI counsel and senior advocate KK Venugopal told the SC that the agency will take two months to complete the investigation, and another month to reach a conclusion and file a charge sheet. “There has to be evidence and documents for each charge. The CAG report is about financial impropriety and not a criminal act,” Venugopal told a bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly.
“The recordings are being subjected to a detailed examination, which is a long and painful process because each of the incriminating statements is to be connected with the statements/ records, so that a comprehensive picture of the transactions... could be obtained,” an affidavit filed by Suresh Kumar Palsania, deputy director, CBI, reads.
The CBI said, “The case is of enormous magnitude which requires the agency to deploy a team of officers for the investigation. It is not confined to India alone; it has ramifications in various foreign countries.”
Clarifying its stand on Radia, the investigating agency said, “The recordings regarding her role are still being examined. It is only when the material based on these calls are cross-checked and verified, and relevant evidence on matters disclosed by these calls are obtained, would they be put to Radia. Any premature disclosure may be prejudicial.”
The I-T department tapped Radia’s calls during 2008-09 and repeatedly sought extensions from the Union home ministry to continue with the exercise. It handed over the tapes of Radia’s conversations with the who’s who of India Inc to the CBI in May.
With inputs by Mayank Agrawal & Pankaj Sharma