Set to monitor the 2G spectrum scam probe, the Supreme Court on Thursday widened the investigation in the case by bringing in its ambit the telecom policy from 2001 to 2008 covering both the NDA and the UPA regimes.
A bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly made it clear that the emphasis of the investigation would be to determine the loss of money to the public exchequer and a progress report on the probe has to be filed by the CBI and ED in a sealed cover on the next date of hearing on February 10, 2011.
The bench allowed the appeal filed by NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), against the Delhi High Court which had rejected the plea for CBI investigation into the irregularities in the grant of licence for 2G spectrum.
“The High Court has committed serious error in dismissing the writ petition. Prima facie, there was sufficient material supported by documents to proceed on the allegation,” the bench observed.
The bench said that the report of the Central Vigilance Commission and the findings of the CAG needed impartial investigation. However, there was no need for a special team to investigate the scam as the government has agreed for court- monitored investigation which is moving in the right direction and Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium and senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for CBI, have assured that there will be comprehensive investigation by the two agencies (CBI and ED), the bench said.
“Accordingly, we are giving directions that the CBI shall carry investigation based on the CVC report and consider the findings of CAG which has prima facie found that ineligible entities were granted licences,” the bench said. It said that how licences were granted to the ineligible operators has to be investigated and as to why TRAI did not take action has to be looked into.
The bench said that the CBI should consider the investigations done by the CVC and the findings of the CAG on the irregularities, which according to it, were blatant violation of norms.
The bench further said that the investigation will also cover why roll out obligations were not fulfilled.
Further, it asked the investigating agencies to probe the transfer of dual technology — CDMA and GSM, saying while the notification for the dual technology was issued on October 19, 2007, one of the service provider was given the permission a day earlier. The investigation shall also cover huge loans by public sector banks and if DoT officials were signatory to the licence agreements, the bench said.
The bench directed the CBI and ED to carry out investigations without being influenced by any individual, their ranks, functionaries and agencies. The bench asked the Directorate of Income Tax to hand over the transcripts of the tapped conversations carried out under the order of the Home Secretary to the CBI.
The court had reserved its judgement on December 8 after hearing arguments forwarded by CPIL, CBI, Enforcement Directorate, Department of Telecommunication and former Telecom Minister A Raja who resigned from the cabinet in the wake of the scam.