Supreme Court slams Sibal on audit remark

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court on Friday slammed Communications Minister Kapil Sibal for his remark that the official auditor’s report was ‘utterly erroneous’ in assessing the loss on award of telecom spectrum at $40 billion and said the probe should be carried on the basis of the report only.


Published: Sun 23 Jan 2011, 12:16 AM

Last updated: Tue 25 Aug 2020, 6:15 PM

“It is unfortunate. The minister should behave with a sense of responsibility,” said the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly, directing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to proceed with the probe on the basis of the report submitted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
“The CBI which is conducting an investigation into what has come to be known as 2G scam is expected to carry out its investigation without being influenced by any statement issued by anyone in the media or TV,” the bench said. The court’s directions came in response to an application by Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy drawing the court’s attention to the press conference by Sibal wherein he had “ridiculed” the CAG for its methodology for calculating the loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore to the public exchequer in the allocation of 2G Spectrum.
“The court has given a detailed order taking into account the CAG’s report that had made a prima facie case of wrong doing,” Swamy told the court, adding that Sibal is “publicly ridiculing the CAG’s findings”.
Swamy contended that Sibal’s statements which were carried by newspapers all over the country and telecast live by news channels “amounted to obstruction of justice”. Seeking “observations and directions” from the court for “free and fair investigations”, Swamy told the court that the “CBI is after all under the government of India”.
At this, the court said: “We take it (CBI) should not be influenced by any one. The investigations are being carried under its supervision and any observation from anyone including the minister should not influence the course of investigation”. Swamy also drew the attention of the court over the way the telecom ministry was trying to compound the wrongdoing of the telecom operators who had not complied with the conditionalities of the 2G spectrum licence.
He pleaded that the court should restrain the telecom ministry from proceeding with the compounding procedure by imposing penalties on the defaulting companies. The court asked him to move an application with a specific prayer for the stay of the compounding procedures.
Subsequently, the court issued notice to 11 telecom companies on Swamy’s application, impleading them as respondents in his (Swamy’s) original petition seeking the cancellation of their licences for not complying with the licence conditions including their time-bound roll out obligations. In some cases ineligible companies too were granted 2G licence.
These are the companies who would be affected by the outcome of the hearing on Swamy’s petition seeking cancellation of licences but were not made respondents initially.The companies that have been issued notices are: S-Tel, Uninor, Loop Telecom, Videocon, Allianz Infra, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Sistema Shyam Teleservices, Dishnet Wireless and Vodafone-Essar.

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