Terming the alleged inaction in responding to a plea for sanction to prosecute former telecom minister A Raja an "extremely serious" issue, the Supreme Court on Thursday sought an affidavit on behalf of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh explaining the inordinate delay.
"Troubled" by the PM's alleged "silence", a bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly told Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium it was seeking the affidavit "so that tomorrow you may not say that the opportunity was not given to place the records."
"All these statements are oral, it will be extremely serious if we find ultimately that something is kept back from this court, so it will be appropriate to file an affidavit," the Solicitor General said. He later told reporters a PMO official would file the affidavit on Friday.
During the hearing, the court also wondered how Raja could write a letter to Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy informing him that sanction would not be granted to prosecute the DMK leader.
Swamy had written to the PM seeking his nod to initiate criminal proceedings against Raja for his alleged role in 2G-spectrum scam.
"He (Raja) is not the sanctioning authority," the court commented after Swamy said he had also received a letter from Raja that why sanction would not be granted on his plea.
Following Raja's resignation on Sunday, Swamy's plea to prosecute the ex-telecom minister has become infructous but he wants the SC to pass a formal order so it becomes a precedent for all such cases in future.
The court fixed Tuesday for further hearing.
Earlier, asserting total transparency was maintained on the issue, the solicitor general told the court he could place before it the entire record on the issue and file an affidavit on behalf of the government. He also said Swamy's letters were responded to.
However, Swamy said he received only one letter from the PMO in March 2010.
Later, Subramanium said the court's comments did not amount to passing strictures on the PM.
"If judges cannot ask questions, then who will? We will answer them," he said.
The court took on record the CAG report. As Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) counsel Prashant Bhushan said the observations made in the CAG report were damaging, the bench said, "Why are you saying it is damaging? It is revealing."