The UPA government and the CBI told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that they were agreeable to a court-monitored probe into the 2G spectrum scam that allegedly cost the exchequer Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
During hearing of a petition on the scam, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium and senior counsel KK Venugopal (representing the CBI), however, ruled out constituting a special investigating team (SIT) to monitor the probe. The CBI has already submitted a status report to the court.
Prashant Bhushan, counsel for petitioner Centre for Public Interest Litigation has been demanding the setting up of an SIT. Alternatively, the petitioner wanted the CBI probe to be monitored by the SC.
"What we can possibly do is to invoke the principle of continuous mandamus," a bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly said.
The shift in government's stand comes in the backdrop of growing demands by the Opposition for a JPC probe. It still tried to impress upon the court that there was no violation of rules in handing out 2G licenses without holding an auction.
As Subramanium said the government had displayed dynamism in the matter, the court took a dig at former telecom minister A Raja. In an obvious reference to Raja, the bench said: "That gentleman was dynamic. The CAG report reflects about his dynamism."
The court directed Subramanium and Venugopal to respond to the petitioner's plea of depositing a copy of 5,800-taped conversation between corporate consultant Niira Radia and others in connection with the scam.
"Every attempt is being made to destroy these tapes. What has come to the public domain is a minor part of what the CBI and Income Tax authorities have. Let them give a copy of the recorded conversation to the court," Bhushan said.