The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that so far 63 persons, including Chief Executive Officers, promoters, managing directors and senior officials of beneficiary companies, were among those interrogated or being examined in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case.

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, made this submission in a status report filed before a Bench comprising Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly hearing the case.

Mr. Venugopal submitted that whatever done by the CBI was set out in the progress report, which also dealt with the quid pro quo of the companies for grant of licence. He assured the court that the investigation was being conducted in a free and fair manner.

Alleged Tatas' role

Counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, submitted that several issues, including the alleged role of the Tata group in the allocation of land to those connected with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, were not being probed.

Quoting media reports, Mr. Bhushan also brought to the notice of the court that a senior CBI officer, who had been investigating the case so far, had taken voluntary retirement and joined a company associated with the International Cricket Council headed by a Union Minister.

Counsel alleged that this was the company that received Rs.100 crore from Sahid Usman Balwa, one of the accused in the 2G scam.

Mr. Venugopal objected to Mr. Bhushan making reckless allegations without being supported by an affidavit. Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the Tatas, also objected to the allegations tarnishing the image of a person to attract headlines in the media.

He wanted the court to hear the case in camera.

Justice Singhvi, however, made it clear that since the press played an important role in democracy, the court could not restrain its functioning. At the same time, he wanted the media to report the proceedings in a responsible manner.

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