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2G scam: SC questions PM silence

The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for not taking action on an application seeking his sanction to start criminal proceedings against former telecom minister A Raja for his role in the 2G spectrum scam. Satya Prakash reports. CAG report

india Updated: Nov 17, 2010 10:40 IST
Satya Prakash Satya Prakash

The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for not taking action on an application seeking his sanction to start criminal proceedings against former telecom minister A Raja for his role in the 2G spectrum scam.

A bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly said it was "troubled" by the "inaction" and "silence" of the sanctioning authority — the prime minister — on a plea by Janata Party leader Subramanyam Swamy for sanction to prosecute Raja.

The prime minister's sanction is needed to prosecute a sitting minister, but following the Supreme Court judgment in the Vineet Narain case, the decision has to be taken within three months. Swamy's plea was filed 16 months ago, but no decision has yet been taken.

"The three months time for grant of sanction laid down by the Supreme Court is clear for fair and good governance… Can the sanctioning authority (PM in this case) sit on the complaint?" the bench asked solicitor general Gopal Subramanium while hearing Swamy's petition.

As the solicitor general tried to explain the delay, the court added: "The sanctioning authority can say I am not inclined to give sanction. But we find the alleged inaction and silence troubling."

This is the second time the apex court has pulled up the government on the same case. During an earlier hearing on October 29, it had accused the CBI — the agency investigating the 2008 2G spectrum allocation — of being deliberately slow and wondered how "the minister (Raja) is still
continuing".

The BJP was quick to rub it in. "After the Supreme Court's observations, the prime minister is duty-bound to tell the nation his reason for the inaction. He is presiding over a Cabinet. It is a collective responsibility," said BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu.

Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said the party needed time to study the text of the court's observation.

Supreme Court said Swamy filed his application in 2008 while the CBI registered a case against "unknown persons" in October 2009. It wanted to know what was done in between.

Subramanium agreed with Swamy's submission that after Raja's resignation, there was no need for sanction to prosecute him. He said he'd file a criminal complaint in the next 10 days.