New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the union government to file an affidavit on behalf of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh detailing his office’s response to a complaint that sought action against former telecom minister A Raja over 2G spectrum allocation.
The bench comprising of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly asked the government to file a written response by November 20 (Saturday), following which the petitioner, Janata Party chief, Dr Subramanyam Swamy would have time till November 22 (Monday) to file his response- the Court will take up the matter for further hearing the following day.
The Supreme Court had, earlier in the week, said that it was "troubled" by the "inaction" and "silence" of the sanctioning authority — the Prime Minister — on a plea by Swamy for sanction to prosecute Raja.
The court noted that while Swamy had asked for sanction to proceed against Raja in 2008, he got a reply from the Prime Minister’s Office 16 months later - in 2010.
“Dr Swamy has a right in law to ask for sanction as a private citizen of the country. (The) sanctioning authority can say yes or no. But to say it is premature means you don’t have a right yet,” the court said.
Representing the government in the court today, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium submitted to the
court that he has already gone through all records pertaining
to Swamy`s complaint against Raja to the Prime Minister and
the detailed communications between him and the PMO.
He sought to assert that total transparency was
maintained on the issue.
Swamy, however, contended that he received only one
letter from the PMO in March 2010 on his plea seeking
prosecution of Raja.
"There was no other letter," he said.
Swamy said he had also received a letter from Raja
that why sanction would not be granted on his plea.
At this point, the bench said how can Raja write such
a letter. "He is not a sanctioning authority. We cannot
consider it," the court said.
After a brief hearing, the bench asked the Solicitor
General to file an affidavit giving details on the issue "so
that tomorrow you may not say that the opportunity was not
given to place the records".
It is appropriate to file an affidavit, the bench
The bench also took on record the CAG report relating
to the 2G spectrum scam which has been placed in Parliament.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO,
Centre for Public Interest Litigation, said the observations
made in the CAG report were damaging.
To this, the bench said, "Why are you saying it is
damaging, it is revealing."
Truth being embroidered: Swamy
Coming out of the court, Dr Swamy expressed surprise at the government’s response saying that the truth is being “embroidered”.
“Today in court, the Solicitor General claimed that he had been through the records and then came to the conclusion that every letter of mine was replied by the PM. I intervened to say that as far as the sanction (to prosecute Raja) is concerned, it was only once communicated to me through his department of personal that it is premature to give sanction,” Swamy said.
He said that the only “substantive” response he has received till date from the PMO has been on March 19, 2010, which was in response to his letter on March 08, 2010, in which he had threatened to go to court if the PM did not respond. In its response the PM had refused to grant permission to prosecute Raja.
“He (PM) did not reply substantially to any letter of mine. From 29 Nov 2008, I have written five times each time sending an additional document. Only thing I know that Mr Raja wrote a letter to me that PM has forwarded my letter to him and that he wants to reply,” adding that as per previous SC ruling’s it is illegal to forward my petition to the accused in the petition.
“I am afraid that either the Solicitor General has been misled by the PMO or he is misleading the court,” Swamy said.
Clearly the PM is in a bind not just over the case in the SC but also because the Parliament is in a logjam over the spectrum scam for a week. The ball is firmly in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s court to try and defuse the crisis and come clean.
Apart from wanting the PM to make his position clear, the Opposition is also standing firm on its demand that a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe be initiated into the entire issue – The Comptroller & Auditor General of India has pegged the loss to the national exchequer due to Raja’s arbitrary spectrum allocation policy in 2008 at Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
There are now indications that the Congress may be willing for a JPC probe provided the telecom policy followed by the NDA government is also brought under the scanner. The matter is expected to figure during party’s Core Group’s deliberations later today.
Meanwhile, pandemonium continued in the Parliament today also, leading to both houses being adjourned for the day.