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Has Supeme Court Erred?
|by Dr. Rajinder Puri|
In 2009 the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case against unknown persons in the 2G Spectrum scam case in which several irregularities had been discovered by the Comptroller Auditor General’s (CAG) report to parliament. The CBI investigations zeroed in on Telecom Minister A. Raja and in the pursuance of the probe the CBI conducted many raids at different premises claiming to have seized evidence. The crucial aspect of the scam is whether the deflated price of issuing licenses was accompanied by payment of bribes and if so which way the money trail ended. The CBI appeared to be proceeding satisfactorily with the probe.
Raja’s defence was that in issuing the licenses he had faithfully followed the procedures adopted by his predecessors from 2001 till 2007 when the opposition NDA was ruling. The Congress took up the cry that NDA ministers also needed to be probed. The Supreme Court (SC) subsequently ordered the CBI to investigate the issuance of telecom licenses from 2001.
In order to avoid the setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Commission as demanded by the opposition the government suggested that the SC might monitor the 2G probe in order to ensure proper investigation. This scribe wrote strongly urging the SC to refuse the government’s suggestion. The experience of the Jain Hawala case earlier in which the SC had undertaken to monitor the probe was cited.
Giving details it was pointed out how in that case the guilty politicians were allowed to escape unscathed, how the others were punished confirming that crime had been committed, how the officials beholden to politicians for career advancement ran rings around the inept judges to subvert the probe, and how after being drawn directly into the murky world of executive decisions the judges ended up by compromising their own reputations for integrity. The article ended up with the warning: “One fervently hopes that Chief Justice Kapadia… will not fall into the trap of lending the Supreme Court’s name to an endorsement of what may well end up as another CBI cover up.”
The Supreme Court ignored this advice. It has consented to monitor the probe. The first trends of that decision are ominous. On Thursday the Supreme Court formally extended the 2G scam investigation by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate to cover allotment of spectrum licenses during the NDA regime from 2001 till 2007. It also asked the income-tax department to hand over a complete analysis of the Nira Radia tapes to the CBI as early as possible to speed up the probe. What might be the result of this?
The immediate involvement of those guilty in the 2G scam unearthed by the probe and raids thus far may now be kept pending until the probe related to the earlier period as well as all the leads discerned from the voluminous Radia tapes are unraveled. Would it not have been quite in order for the CBI probe to continue uninterrupted and nail the guilty to punish them forthwith? The discovery of further skullduggery involved in the earlier period could have merited fresh cases. Now it is likely that the focus of the probe will be diluted while the procedures of issuing licenses since 2001 is examined, the Radia tapes are analyzed, and the immediate focus on the money trail is derailed. And with passage of long time what might eventually happen to those guilty? The anti-Sikh riots of 1984 provide a hint.
Is one being too pessimistic? One hopes that is the case. If not, the Supreme Court will stand condemned at the bar of history.
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12/18/2010 22:48 PM