Supreme Court brings NDA rule under 2G probe

The UPA government got some respite on Thursday when the Supreme Court brought the entire telecom policy between 2001 and 2008 in the ambit of the 2G investigation.

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Under severe attack from the BJP-led opposition over the spectrum allocation scam, the UPA government got some respite on Thursday when the Supreme Court brought the entire telecom policy between 2001 and 2008 in the ambit of the 2G investigation.

The period covers both the NDA and the UPA regimes. The court also announced that it would monitor the CBI inquiry into the arbitrary allocation of spectrum without any auction two years ago.

The Congress has found vindication of its position in the court’s stand. “What else do they (the opposition) want? This is the outcome that would have followed any joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe as well,” said Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, questioning the rationale behind the JPC demand.

The Congress has been favouring a court-monitored probe into the 2G scam.

“There is no question of being afraid of the JPC. But the point is: what is the rationale behind the opposition’s demand? And what is the objective that they want to achieve through the disruption of Parliament. Do they want action against the guilty or do they want to merely politicise the issue?” asked Singh.

The apex court had earlier favoured widening the scope of the probe, saying the issue raised in the case had a much wider compass and not limited to Rs1.76 lakh crore only. “What happened in 2001 needs to be looked into,’’ it had said. The counsel for disgraced telecom minister A Raja has been maintaining that his client was following the policy initiated by his predecessors.

A bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly made it clear that the emphasis of the investigation would be to determine the loss to the public exchequer and said a progress report on the probe has to be filed by the CBI and the enforcement directorate in a sealed cover on the next hearing date, February 10, 2011.

It, however, said there was no need for a special team to investigate the scam as the government has agreed for a court-monitored investigation which is moving in the right direction.

“We are giving directions that the CBI shall carry its investigation based on the report of the chief vigilance commissioner (CVC) and consider the findings of CAG which has prima facie found that ineligible entities were granted licences,” it said. The CBI should not be influenced by anyone, warned the court, while giving the CBI an extensive to-do list.

“It shall conduct the investigation without being influenced by any functionary, agency or instrumentality of the state and irrespective of the position, rank or status of the person to be investigated/probed,” the court said.

The bench asked the investigating agencies to probe the transfer of dual technology -- CDMA and GSM -- saying while the notification for the dual technology was issued on October 19, 2007, one of the service providers was given permission a day earlier.

The investigation shall also cover huge loans by public sector banks and if DoT officials were signatory to the licence agreements, the bench said.

The bench allowed the appeal filed by NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), against the Delhi high court which had rejected the plea for CBI investigation into the irregularities in the grant of licence for 2G spectrum.

“The high court has committed a serious error in dismissing the writ petition. Prima facie, there was sufficient material supported by documents to proceed on the allegation,” the bench observed.

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