New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on the plea for a probe into the alleged role of Home Minister P Chidambaram in the 2G scam after a spirited defence of him from Government and the CBI, both of which maintained that no case has been made out against him. Swamy refutes CBI argument (Agencies)
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 submiited 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 perverted or motivated.
Rao criticized the reporting of the 2G case saying media picks up half-baked information without realizing the consequences and they were trying to "destabilize" 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 upto was," 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."
Swamy refuted the contention of the CBI that the first offence in the 2G scam was committed on January 10 with the issuance of the LoIs and Chidambaram entered into the picture only on or after January 15 and was not party to the offence.
"My rebuttal is that the offence, recorded in the FIR and the charge sheet, was not committed on January 10 when LOIs were issued, but only after the licences were signed and issued, which was not done before February 27, 2008," he said.
Swamy said there there is documentation to show that Chidambaram and Raja had a meeting of minds in the commission of the offences.
"The CBI knew the documents that show Chidambaram had been apprised by officials as early as on December 17, 2007 that the 2003 Cabinet decision needed clarification on whether it was justified in fixing entry fee at 2001 level," he said.
Swamy referred to the four meetings between them and claimed that Chidambaram after the third meeting wrote to Raja on April 21, 2008 to meet to "reach some conclusions" (to finalise the Spectrum charges), before jointly presenting the conclusions to the Prime Minister.
"These facts make clear that it was a joint decision after a meeting of minds. That is, Chidambaram had a meeting of mind with Raja in acts of the latter in the commission of the first offence, for which Raja has now become an accused in the CBI charge sheet," Swamy said in his submission.
The Janata Party President said the second offence was committed when Chidambaram had advised Raja that it was legal to "dilute" the shares by telecom companies after getting licence.
"The Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless got a huge bonanza, according to the FIR, by selling 45% and 60% respectively to two black listed firms, Etisalat and Telenor, and later submerging their identity with these firms," he said.
"Thereby the owners of Swan and Unitech earned five to eight times what they paid the government for getting the licence," he said.
"The Office Memo emanating from Finance Ministry signed by a Deputy Director shows the sequence of meetings which make it clear that it was a decision solely of the then Finance Minister to go along and/or encourage Raja to commit the crime," Swamy said.
In identical arguments, Bhushan said the facts stated in the controversial note of the Finance Ministry, without taking into account the inferences, point to a clear fact that officials of the Finance Ministry repeatedly pointed out that spectrum allocation could not be determined by the entry fee of 2001.
"That it should be allocated through a market discovered price. It was impossible for Mr. Raja to move ahead without the concurrence of the then Finance Minister," he said.
"Despite the fact that the Finance Secretary had taken such a strong view which had been recorded in the DoT’s approach paper, Chidambaram chose to side with Raja on the issue of pricing," he said.
"It is to be noted that even the Prime Minister had favoured auction of spectrum. However, Raja and Chidambaram jointly decided on spectrum pricing and allowed the licenses to be traded, and conveyed their joint decision to the Prime Minister.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on the plea for a probe into the alleged role of Home Minister P Chidambaram in the 2G scam after a spirited defence of him from Government and the CBI, both of which maintained that no case has been made out against him.
Swamy refutes CBI argument