We expect technical objections and road blocks, so charge sheet should be proper: counsel
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that it would file an 80,000-page charge sheet in the 2G spectrum allocation scam against the former Communications Minister A. Raja, four former Telecom officials and two companies on April 2. It was originally proposed to be filed on March 31.
Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal told a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly that the agency was still in the process of readying the charge-sheet.
“Given the status of the persons involved in the case and the fact that they can get themselves good defence, we expect technical objections to be raised at every stage. There will be roadblocks. We have to file a proper charge sheet.” He sought court permission to file it on April 2. The 60-day deadline for filing the charge sheet expires on April 3.
When Justice Singhvi expressed a desire to peruse the draft charge sheet before it was filed in the special court, Mr. Venugopal cited an earlier judgement and said the court could not insist on it. “The accused will then claim that the Supreme Court has vetted the charge sheet and we do not have the option of seeking discharge. Once the charge sheet is filed, it becomes a document in the public domain. The court can then see it.”
Mr. Venugopal said Mr. Raja and the other accused would face charges under Sections 420 (cheating), 467 and 471 (forgery and passing off forged documents as original) of the Indian Penal Code, and several charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
They would be charged with conspiracy to defraud the exchequer to the tune of crores and to arbitrarily change the cut-off date for making applications for 2G spectrum, cheating by non-revision of entry fees, fraudulent implementation of the first come, first served policy and forgery of official documents.
Earlier, submitting status reports of the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI, Mr. Venugopal said investigations had revealed that the Swan telecom takeover was against the Reserve Bank of India norms. He, however, said that under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, only penalties up to five times the loss caused to the government could be imposed, and property could also be confiscated.
The CBI counsel assured the court that all investigations would be completed by May 31. Two more persons were arrested on Tuesday morning for documents, relating to a resolution that the money advanced to Kalaignar Television was only a loan, going missing.
Whether it was a loan or a case of quid pro quo for grant of licence was being probed, he said. Several supplementary charge sheets would also be filed soon. The first one, to be submitted by April 25, would deal with foreign money transfers, the dual licensing policy and resumption of licences post cancellation.
However, the probe into the money trail to many countries would take more time. The tapes of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia's conversations would be used as evidence in the case trial, Mr. Venugopal said.
When counsel Prashant Bhusan, appearing for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, said the Income Tax department had not submitted any status report so far, the Bench asked the department to file it in four weeks.
Justice Singhvi made it clear that no interference from any quarter would be tolerated. If there was any interference, the CBI could bring it to the court's notice immediately.
When Mr. Bhushan sought a CBI probe into the death of Sadiq Batcha, a close aide of Mr. Raja, the court asked the agency to take instructions and posted the application for further hearing on April 1.