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SC slams Sibal, says CAG comment 'unfortunate'

IANS  New Delhi, January 21, 2011
First Published: 12:38 IST(21/1/2011) | Last Updated: 15:24 IST(21/1/2011)

The Supreme Court on Friday slammed communications minister Kapil Sibal for his remark that the official auditor's report was "utterly erroneous" in assessing the loss on award of telecom spectrum at Rs. 1.76 lakh crore ($40 billion).

"It is unfortunate," said the apex court bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice AK Ganguly.

The court said the minister must be more responsible and directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to proceed with the probe on the basis of the report sumbitted by the Comptoller and Auditor General (CAG).

"The court has also directed that the Central Bureau of Investigation must ensure that they are not influenced by any statement made by anybody including the minister," said Janata Party leader and petitioner Subramanian Swamy.

"When the court has placed so much faith in the CAG report and has asked CBI to act according to it and proceed on that basis, the attack of Mr. Kapil Sibal on the CAG was only uncalled for," Swamy told reporters, commenting on the remarks of the bench.

Short of rejecting the auditor's report, Sibal earlier this month said the method used was "utterly erroneous" in pegging the notional loss at Rs. 1.76 lakh crore (around $40 billion) while awarding airwaves for 2G phone services in 2008.

Earlier, the Supreme Court issued notices to the union government and 11 firms on Swamy's plea, seeking cancellation of airwaves issued for 2G telecom services during the tenure of former communications minister A Raja.

The apex court issued the notices to the companies that allegedly did not fulfil the roll-out obligations as per the terms and conditions of being issued spectrum.

The companies that have been issued notices are: Etisalat, S-Tel, Uninor, Loop Telecom, Videocon, Allianz Infra, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Sistema Shyam Teleservices, Dishnet Wireless and Vodafone-Essar.

The bench had also sought the response from the Department of Telecom and the companies by Feb 1. It had also impleaded the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) as a respondent in the petition.

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