Who will give opinion in 2G case -- AG or SPP -- SC to decide

Who will give opinion in 2G case -- AG or SPP -- SC to decide New Delhi: With differences cropping up between the investigating and prosecution wing of the CBI in the 2G case, the Supreme Court Thursday said it will decide whether the Attorney General or the Special Public Prosecutor will be the final authority to give opinion in dealing with it.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan decided to examine the issue as the CBI stated that there was a difference of opinion between the two wings of the agency on filing of the charge sheet against the accused named in the FIR on the issue of spectrum allocation during the tenure of late Pramod Mahajan as the Telecom Minister in NDA regime.

The bench wanted to know why the CBI was seeking opinion of the Attorney General on the issue when the Government has appointed Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) for the prosecution of the cases arising out of the investigation in the 2G spectrum scam.

The bench said it will consider the issue on November 19.

The CBI in its progress report into the probe of the spectrum allocation during Mahajan's tenure stated that after Director (Prosecution) in the CBI disagreed with the investigators on filing the charge sheet against the accused named in the FIR, the matter was referred to the Attorney General for his opinion.

However, when the bench wanted to know "why the CBI was not taking the opinion of the SPP," senior advocate K K Venugopal, counsel for CBI, said the agency manual and the apex court judgement on the issue came in the way of taking any other route.

"The SPP was appointed after a lot of reluctance from the government. We think it is appropriate that the matter is referred to the SPP since he is dealing with the case and its trial," the bench said and added that "the whole object of SPP was there to have total independence for the CBI which can consult him."

Senior advocate U U Lalit was appointed as the SPP.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who was appearing for NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), said "difference of opinion between the two wings of CBI has become a pattern" and it is all to protect the Chairman of Bharti Group, Sunil Mittal.

Bhushan said while the entire hierarchy in the CBI was in favour of filing charge sheet against the accused named in the FIR which included former telecom secretary Shymal Ghosh, J R Gupta, Deputy Director General (DDG) (value added services) etc, the Director Prosecution in the agency was in disagreement with them.

He claimed that during the investigation, the Investigating Officer found a loss of Rs 508.22 crore to the Government with active role allegedly played by Mittal of Bharti Airtel in connivance with Mahajan, then Telecom Minister and Ghosh.

The bench, which perused the CBI and Enforcement Directorate's status reports on the probe into allocation of spectrum, said "Indian High Commission in Malaysia will extend full cooperation to the CBI".

The bench mentioned this in its order as the CBI had submitted that it needed support of the High Commission in its overseas probe on the Aircel-Maxis deal involving former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and Malaysian business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan, who is allegedly influencing the probe.

During the hearing, the bench wanted to know from the CBI as to how long will it take to complete its foreign probe.

Venugopal, who was appearing for the agency, said "when the CBI has to prove the quid-pro-quo it needs to have evidence to prove the case of bribery".

"If the evidence is not there to make a case we will have to file a closure report. If the evidence is not given in the charge sheet, it will be thrown out of the court," he said.

The senior advocate said CBI cannot jump the gun to file the charge sheet.

"Nobody wants the CBI to jump the gun but the investigation cannot be for an indefinite period," the bench said.

During the hearing, Bhushan also alleged that the CBI probe in the transfer of shares from Reliance Telecom Ltd to Mauritius-based Delphi Investment Ltd did not inspire confidence as the agency has not questioned Reliance ADAG Chairman Anil Ambani.

Earlier, the prosecutor had told the trial court that letters rogatory (LR) for the probe into the suspected bribe amount paid to public servants allegedly from RTL through Delphi Investment Ltd have been sent abroad.

PTI