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PM made all efforts to deal with 2G complaints: Attorney General

The government's senior legal adviser today defended Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Supreme Court against allegations he had failed to act over 2G spectrum scam. 2G scam explained

delhi Updated: Nov 23, 2010 16:10 IST

The government's senior legal adviser on Tuesday defended Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Supreme Court against allegations he had failed to act over a massive telecom corruption scam.

Attorney General GE Vahanvati said Singh "had made all efforts to deal with the complaint" after the court asked the premier to explain delays in replying to an opposition request to prosecute the minister involved.

India's chief auditing body last week declared the sale of 2G telecom licences by former telecoms minister A. Raja had lost the country up to 40 billion dollars.

Raja, who resigned on November 14, is accused of selling the licences in 2007 to favoured bidders for a fraction of their true value.

Singh has not been accused of benefiting from any alleged graft but, under Indian law, the premier must approve criminal proceedings against any cabinet member.

Vahanvati told the court that the complaint lodged by opposition MP Subramanian Swamy was "misconceived in law."

Swamy wrote to Singh in 2008 demanding for Raja to be investigated and prosecuted, but he said he received a reply only in March this year saying no probe would be launched.

India's main opposition party on Tuesday vowed to keep the national parliament deadlocked until the government agreed to a cross-party probe into the allegations.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other opposition groups have forced constant adjournments in parliament for two weeks as Singh has come under increasing pressure over his handling of the scandal.

"Two-thirds of the house members are demanding a joint parliamentary committee probe, why is the government denying their demand? It is a democratic demand," BJP spokesman Prakash Javdekar told AFP.

"The prime minister should resign if he believes in democracy."

The controversy has presented Singh with one of the most serious challenges to his reputation for probity since he came in power in 2005.

He has denied failing to act, and on Saturday said "there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that if any wrong thing has been done by anybody he or she or will be brought to book."

Raja hails from a powerful southern regional party that is a pivotal member of the coalition government headed by Singh's Congress party.

Congress officials have been accused of being unwilling to risk the coalition by upsetting Raja's DMK party over the disputed telecoms sell-off.

The Supreme Court on Monday expressed its concern that media coverage of the scandal had implicated Singh directly.

"The prime minister's role is being dragged (in) unnecessarily," the judges said."

First Published: Nov 23, 2010 14:56 IST