‘Autonomous’ CBI says can’t probe Chidambaram
The CBI on Tuesday categorically stated in the Supreme Court that it cannot probe the role of Home Minister P Chidambaram in the pricing of 2G spectrum.
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday categorically stated in the Supreme Court that it cannot probe the role of Home Minister P Chidambaram in connection with the 2G spectrum allocation scam.
As the Supreme Court resumed hearing on a plea by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking an investigation into Chidambaram`s role in 2G spectrum pricing as the then Union finance minister in 2008, CBI`s counsel said the agency has completed its investigation into the scam and that it cannot initiate a probe against Chidambaram now.
CBI’s remarks came after the Central government’s lawyer told the apex court today that the investigating agency can look afresh at the new documents, that were submitted in court by Subramanian Swamy and deal with Chidambaram’s role.
Objecting to this, CBI’s lawyer said the central agency is an autonomous, independent body and it cannot be directed by anyone.
Meanwhile, in an interesting turn of events former telecom minister A Raja’s lawyer today opposed a probe against Chidambaram, saying the same at this stage would delay the case.
This is in contrast to yesterday’s events when Raja’s lawyer had sought to implicate the entire Cabinet in the 2G scam and wanted Chidambaram to be summoned as a witness in the case.
The SC, meanwhile, adjourned the hearing on Swamy’s plea till tomorrow as senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan sought time to make out a case for the setting up of a Special Investigation Team to monitor the case.
Both the Centre and Janata Party president today completed their arguments in the case. The CBI had completed its arguments last week.
Chidambaram’s role as the then finance minister in deciding the pricing of the second generation (2G) spectrum allocated in 2008 came under scanner, following the emergence of a Finance Ministry note, sent to the Prime Minister’s Office on March 25 this year. The note, prepared by a Finance Ministry official and reportedly seen by current Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, stated had Chidambaram insisted the allocation of 2G spectrum in 2008 at 2001 prices could have been stopped, thus preventing the Rs 1.76 lakh crore loss caused to the exchequer.
The note, brought to light by Swamy and accessed through an RTI application, highlighted the growing discord between two senior UPA ministers.
Amid the raging storm, both Chidambaram and Mukherjee met Congress president Sonia Gandhi yesterday but refused to say anything. Sources however said Chidambaram offered to resign during his meeting with Gandhi. He had also, reportedly, offered to quit in a telephonic conversation with the PM last week.
Mukherjee, who returned from the US yesterday, said he will comment on the issue only after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is back in the country. Singh, who was also in the US to attend the annual UN General Assembly session, is currently on his way back to the country and is expected to arrive later today.
Mukherjee had an unscheduled meeting with the PM in New York to discuss the same issue, but did not clarify his position.