New Delhi: India’s Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the CBI, seeking its response to an application by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) alleging that the agency slowed down the probe against the former Telecom Minister, Dayanidhi Maran, after it had filed the First Information Report in the 2G spectrum scam case.
After hearing Prashant Bhushan, counsel for the CPIL, a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly also sought the CBI’s response to the allegation that the agency had diluted the third supplementary charge sheet against Loop Telecom owing to the interference of Union Law Minister Salman Khursheed and two top functionaries in the CBI.
The Bench directed that the matter be listed for further hearing on January 20.
In its application, the CPIL drew the court’s attention to the fact that the CBI did not file the charge sheet against Mr. Maran after the FIR was filed. “The CBI is deliberately going slow in the case and has not made any arrest. This was the most clear-cut case of corruption and quid pro quo, and is being made weak by the CBI. [A] charge sheet should have been filed… several months back.”
Mr. Bhushan alleged that the CBI, in the third charge sheet against Loop Telecom, had booked the accused under Sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the IPC. However, the charge sheet “does not include any charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act and leaves out the role of public servants. There is a possibility of this case being taken away from the Special Judge dealing with the 2G cases, as [a] case of cheating is triable by a magistrate. Such an event would be a complete misreading of this court’s order designating the Special Court to deal with all 2G cases.”
He said: “The investigation officers dealing … in the case had found strong evidences… and had apparently/reportedly proposed charges even under the Prevention of Corruption Act. This was apprised to this court in the status reports. However, CBI Director of Prosecution Abdul Aziz overruled the report of the investigating officers and said no criminal case was made out… Giving a clean chit to the companies, he said this was merely a contractual violation.”
Furthermore, “CBI Director A.P. Singh partially differed with the observations of Mr. Aziz and observed that a case of cheating and conspiracy is made out against the companies, their promoters and private people. But he agreed with Mr. Aziz that no case is made out under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and against public servants. Mr. Singh justified this on the ground that the Department of Telecom officers concerned at the time of issue of LoIs [Letters of Intent] did not know that Loop Telecom was controlled by the Essar Group through a web of companies. Though the issue was referred to Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati for his opinion, this aspect was not addressed by him.”
Mr. Bhushan said: “The interference of Law Minister Salman Khursheed is evident. He is publicly giving clean chit to Essar/Loop. It is to be noted that this case is similar to that of Swan-Reliance, wherein the CBI has already filed charge sheets against officials of Swan and Reliance and also the public officials. The charge sheet includes charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act. These developments are likely to weaken the prosecution case in the matter of Swan-Reliance as well.”