The Supreme Court on Wednesday enlarged the scope of the probe into the 2G-spectrum allocation scam by asking the CBI to examine the issue since 2001 when the controversial 'first-come-first-served' policy was introduced during the NDA government.
"Why don't you go into the matter from 2001," the SC said, pointing out the prices for allocation of spectrum on 'first-come-first-served' basis were fixed that year.
It also asked the CBI to examine the conduct of some public sector banks, including the SBI, in giving loans to real estate companies on the basis of hypothecation of their spectrum licences.
Maintaining the issue was not limited to only R1.76 lakh crore, a bench of justice GS Singhvi and justice AK Ganguly said: "We would not like to prejudice the probe. But, what happened in 2001 needs to be looked into. It is for the CBI to investigate and find out."
The bench, which reserved its verdict on a petition filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation for an SC-monitored probe into the R1.76 lakh crore scam, however, questioned the rationale behind allocating spectrum at the 2001 rate in 2008.
"In these days of spiralling rates why do you give it for a song. Every action has to be tested on the touchstone of legality," the SC said.
KK Venugopal, the CBI's counsel told the court about the raids on the houses of Raja and his key former aides on Wednesday.
But petitioner's counsel Prashant Bhushan termed the raids a "meaningless exercise" as the CBI did not for over a year even after registering a case on October 21, 2009.