New Delhi: CBI Tuesday commenced its probe into four issues in connection with the tapped conversations of lobbyist Niira Radia with various high-profile individuals as part of its separate preliminary enquiries (PE) in 14 related cases.
CBI sources said today that four PEs covering these issues have so far been registered on the instructions of the Supreme Court while the process of initiating the remaining 10 inquiries is underway.
The sources said the agency has registered a PE into Radia's conversation with Pradip Baijal, ex-chief of TRAI, allegedly pertaining to his appointment as Chairman of Pipeline Advisory Committee to allegedly favour Reliance Industries.
The agency has named Baijal and Radia in the enquiry, they said.
It has also started a PE into Radia's conversations pertaining to alleged discrepancy in subscriber data base declared by Reliance Communications to BSE and TRAI, the sources said, adding that the company has been named in the enquiry.
"We welcome the independent time-bound enquiries by the CBI, monitored by the Supreme Court, which will clearly establish our bona fide, and once and for all prove beyond doubt that we have been the unfortunate victims of a mischievous campaign of calumny and vilification conducted at the behest of our unscrupulous corporate rivals over the past five years," Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group had said in a statement.
The sources said a PE against Radia, unknown officials of her company Vaishnavi and unknown officials of BHEL has also been registered in connection with the alleged payment of commission for clearing bills from the public sector undertaking. A spokesman of Radia declined to comment.
The agency has also started an enquiry against Vishal Mehta, the then CEO of Vaishnavi, unknown officials of DoT and unknown officials of Unitech in connection with grant of spectrum to Unitech.
A bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi had identified 23 issues which were framed by a apex court-appointed probe team on the analysis of the tapped conversations of Radia with bureaucrats, politicians, corporate tycoons and scribes. It then ordered a CBI probe into 14 issues last week.
The matter related to supply of low floor buses by Tata Motors to Government of Tamil Nadu under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme of Government of India has been referred to Chennai branch of the CBI, the CBI sources said, adding a PE would be initiated soon.
"The matter is sub-judice. Hence we cannot comment on any specifics. Suffice it to say, we will offer full cooperation in any inquiry by any government agency," Tata Motors spokesperson said.
The apex court asked the CBI to investigate alleged criminal misconduct by public servants in respect of survey/raid conducted by Income Tax department, payment of illegal gratification to tax officials to get work done and conversations regarding allocation of spectrum.
The bench had turned down the suggestion of the probe team that some of the issues be probed by the state police and other agencies.
The bench said, "The subjects mentioned in the eight issues are prima facie indicative of deep rooted malaise in the system of which advantage has been taken by private enterprises in collaboration/connivance with the Government officers and others.
"The conversations between Niira Radia and her associates with various persons suggests that unscrupulous elements have used corrupt means to secure favours from the Government officers, who appear to have acted for extraneous considerations".
Former TRAI chairman Pradip Baijal refuted the allegations. "If there is an investigation, I will co-operate," he said.
On the allegations, Reliance Communication said," the alleged loss of revenue to the Exchequer by RCOM relates to industry issues involving all telecom operators, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Tata Telecom, and all operators have already been granted stay orders by the Courts against action by the DoT."
Unitech spokesperson said, "We are pleased to learn that Supreme Court has ordered a CBI enquiry into hammering of stock of Unitech. In October 2008, widespread malicious rumours were being spread about the financial health of our company, possibly by the bear cartels or market operators who had vested interest in making short term gains," Unitech spokesperson said.
The company said, "Similar instance happened with a leading private bank of the country. At that time, we witnessed a single day plunge of over 51 per cent in our share price which compelled us to issue urgent clarification to the stock exchanges and the media denying these rumours."
It said, "we also contemplated to seek a probe into this matter by the market regulator and the investigation agencies, but could not take any action based on suspicion. We are thankful to the hon'ble Court for ordering enquiry into this matter now which caused a great monetary as well as reputation loss to us".