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Go after big fish, SC tells CBI

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 10, 2011
First Published: 18:52 IST(10/2/2011) | Last Updated: 02:01 IST(11/2/2011)

Giving a free hand to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the 2G spectrum scam, the Supreme Court on Thursday told the agency to go after the big fish who benefited from it.


The apex court also restrained all other courts from passing any orders that could impede the investigation and asked the government to set up a special court to exclusively try this case.

A bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly wanted to know why top executives of companies allegedly involved in the scam were not questioned.

“It is surprising that the managing directors were not summoned. Merely because somebody is in the Forbes list of billionaires should not make any difference. Why has the CBI not taken any action in this regard?” the bench asked, after going through the status reports filed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Attorney general GE Vahanvati assured the bench that he would inform the court of the government’s decision by March 1, the next date of hearing.

The court’s query was prompted by Prashant Bhushan, advocate for the petitioner, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, who said the probe agencies had not questioned the heads of several companies, including Swan Telecom, which was allegedly controlled by Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group when the scam took place. Appearing for the CBI and ED, senior advocate KK Venugopal sought a month to report back on the progress made in the probe against the beneficiaries of the scam.

The CBI would file the first chargesheet in the case by March 31, 2011, he said, adding: “The foreign investigation part would be completed later.”

To this, the court said: “We will scrutinise the draft chargesheet before it is filed in the special court.”

The Supreme Court also questioned the role of banks in giving loans to the prospective licensees. “What is intriguing is that banks, which were giving financial assistance, did not find out about the type of transaction,” the bench said.

Venugopal responded saying banks gave loans to various corporate houses before the allocation of licences but with proper approvals from their respective boards of directors. The court also wanted to know what action had been taken against Telecom Regulatory Authority of India officials.

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