The Supreme Court direction to the CBI to carry out investigations in the 2G spectrum scam from 2001-08 which also covers the NDA tenure was on Thursday welcomed by the BJP but it insisted on a JPC probe, a demand flatly rejected by the Government.
"BJP welcomes the direction of the Supreme Court to monitor the CBI probe into 2G spectrum scam. We fully endorse the instructions of the Supreme Court in the scam involving more than Rs 1.76 lakh crore. Having said that, BJP still strongly demands creation of a JPC and we reiterate this demand," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.
Asked if BJP had any issues with the period to be investigated by CBI as per the SC directive, Rudy insisted that his party had even agreed to a probe from 1998 onwards.
"We welcome the period of investigation which CBI has to look into from 2001-08. In fact, BJP had even said we can have the investigations from 1998. Infact, my friends in the Congress will now have no alibi whatsoever to say that period has been left out," Rudy said.
Turning down the opposition demand for a JPC probe, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal said it was only aimed at delaying the investigations into 2G policy since 2001.
"Is the opposition demanding a JPC to delay probe into 2G policy since 2001," Sibal said at a press conference.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court directed the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate to carry out investigations into the 2G spectrum scam and widened the ambit of the probe to include telecom policies from 2001 to 2008, covering both the NDA and the UPA regimes.
Rudy contended that the CBI would only investigate the "criminal conduct" whereas a JPC would look into all aspects of the scam.
"There are several aspects like why the Prime Minister did not give sanction to prosecute A Raja for 11 months, Raja's contention that PM was taken into confidence on the decisions taken, and how some people lobbied that Raja gets the Telecom Ministry. CBI has a mandate only to investigate corruption charges," Rudy said.
Arun Shourie, who held the telecom portfolio between January 2003 and May 2004 in the NDA regime, said widening the scope of the probe would establish how "honest decisions were taken by honest persons".
He said it "is an opportunity for all of us to demonstrate that the Department of Telecom has not been manned by Rajas alone."
"My only plea is that the new order should not become an excuse for delaying the prosecution of A Raja on the evidence that is well in hand of the CBI". Prior to Shourie, late Pramod Mahajan was the telecom minister from 2001.