The Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday sought time till March 31, 2011, for completing the probe in connection with the FIR registered in the 2G spectrum case.
So far, it said, the investigation had been carried out in right earnest and in a fair and impartial manner.
Making his submissions before a Bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly in the Supreme Court, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing on behalf of the CBI, said the agency had earlier submitted its reports in a sealed cover, but it was now filing an affidavit explaining the steps and the investigation carried out so far and it might be taken on record.
Denying slackness on the part of the CBI, he said searches were carried out in various premises soon after the FIR was registered and several documents were seized. Over 800 documents/files running to over 80,000 pages were being scrutinised. In September, the agency sought six months, he said. The probe would be completed in another three months and by March 31, 2011, the entire report would be ready.
He said the court could not go into the merits of the case at this stage. Any observations made by the Supreme Court would prejudice the probe. He would place on record several Supreme Court judgments on whether the court could monitor the pending investigation or not.
Justice Singhvi told the counsel: “We are now only hearing the facts of the case. We will give you every opportunity when your turn comes.”
As regards the phone calls relating to Ms. Niira Radia, the CBI affidavit said: “The exercise is a prolonged and painstaking one and is still continuing as 5,851 call recordings, many of them 30-40 minutes long, have to be listened to and analysed. About 3,500 calls have been analysed and the process is going on.” She would be called by the agency at an appropriate time. The CBI pointed out that the recordings, which were the main basis of the investigation regarding her role, were still being examined.
“It is only when the materials based on these calls are cross-checked, verified and relevant evidence on matters disclosed by these calls is obtained through investigation, will the entirety of the material be put to Ms. Radia at an appropriate time. Any premature disclosure of the materials in that regard may be prejudicial to a successful investigation of the case.”
Earlier, counsel Prashant Bhushan explained how Mr. Raja evolved a methodology of first-come-first-served with “a mala fide intention” and advanced the cut-off date for considering the applications. This resulted in the elimination of 343 of the 575 applicants.
Summarising the CAG report, counsel said it had clearly established that 122 spectrum licences were given to 16 companies in 2008 at the 2001 price level without following the policy of public auction. “This was done despite repeated objections and despite the advice of the Law Ministry, Finance Secretary and Telecom Secretary.”
The Law Ministry even wanted the matter to be considered by the EGOM, but that was overlooked. He said a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act should be registered against Mr. Raja and other senior officials of the Telecom department.
Observations, not order
Senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina, appearing for Mr. Raja, said in a brief intervention that “every day Mr. Raja stands condemned, though there is not a single word in the CAG report that Mr. Raja is responsible for the loss. The CAG report is totally distorted and Mr. Raja is being charged.”
Earlier, Justice Singhvi observed that the media gave a distorted report of the court proceedings on November 18 relating to the filing of affidavit on behalf of the Prime Minister. He made it clear that the questions posed to the counsel were only observations of the court and not an order.
Arguments will continue on Tuesday.