New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on a plea moved by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the role of former finance minister and present Home Minister P Chidambram in deciding the 2G spectrum price along with the then communication minister A Raja.
A spirited defence of Chidambaram was put up from the government and the CBI, both of which maintained that no case has been made out against him.
They said that Chidambaram, who was Finance Minister at the time of allotment of spectrum, was not in direct communication with the then telecom minister A Raja in determining the price of the radio waves.
"The records show that there was no meeting between Raja and Chidambaram throughout this period and before January 10, 2008 and that all the discussion papers were seen and routed through the Finance Secretary to the Finance Minister and all the correspondence was seen and routed through the Finance Secretary," the Centre submitted before a bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly.
However, the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and Janata Party Chief Subramanian Swamy refuted the claims of the CBI and the Centre that Chidambaram was not in the picture till January, 10, 2008 when the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) headed by Raja issued 122 Letters of Intent (LoIs) to telecom companies without following the policy of auction.
The Bench, which also reserved its order on the plea of setting up a committee like Special Investigating Team (SIT) to monitor the probe in the case and to direct the CBI to investigate the role of Chidambaram, was told by the probe agency that no case was made out against him.
"No case is made out to issue any direction to the CBI for further investigation," CBI's counsel and senior advocate KK Venugopal submitted while placing another status report in on the progress in the case.
An identical stand was taken by Centre's senior counsel PP Rao, who said the view taken by the CBI after studying all the documents and those placed by intervener cannot be said to be perverse or motivated.
Rao criticised the reporting of the 2G case saying media picks up half-baked information without realising the consequences and they were trying to "destabilise" the system without any justification.
Counsel for Reliance Telecom Mukul Rohtagi complained that media reported the observations of the court during the proceedings on an earlier hearing despite a caution by the bench.
He pleaded that the contents of the status report prepared by the CBI should not be read out in the open court.
CPIL's counsel Prashant Bhushan and Swamy contended that throughout the Finance Ministry officials and Finance Secretary were advocating for the allocation of spectrum throughout auction and Chidambaram was apprised of what was going on.
"Chidambaram was consistently apprised of what was going on. Till November 30, 2007 Chidambaram was apprised of what Raja was upto," Swamy said.
Bhushan said "the officials were overruled by the Finance Minister (Chidambaram)".
"There was tripartite meeting going on between DoT, Finance Ministry and the PMO as to what should be done," he said.
Swamy supported Bhushan's arguments and said "well before January 15, 2008, Chidambaram was aware what was going on."
Speaking to reporters after the court hearing, Swamy said, “The government is running scared….government’s counsel PP Rao contended in court that the case will impact the CBI probe in the 2G spectrum scam case.”
The bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly took exception to the contention and asked Rao to submit an amendment, Swamy further revealed.
He accused the CBI of trying to save Chidambaram by putting across technical arguments and that he has come to know that CBI has an 800 page file which they have kept sealed in a locker, adding that those documents will clearly prove Chidambaram’s culpability, “I will request the court to direct the government to make them public, “ he said.
Swamy further said that he has submitted three more documents which negate the CBI’s contention that Raja had auctioned spectrum on January 10 in 2008 and Chidambaram had taken charge on January 10 2008.
With PTI inputs