CBI going slow on probe, says Prashant Bhushan

The Supreme Court will examine on November 7 a status report to be filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation on the probe into charges against the former Telecom Minister, Dayanidhi Maran, in the Aircel-Maxis deal.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and K.S. Radhakrishnan, hearing the case relating to 2G spectrum allocation, told counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, that it would consider what directions could be given to the CBI after examining the report.

Mr. Bhushan alleged that the CBI was proceeding slowly in the investigation. Though the FIR against Mr. Maran was lodged in October last year, investigation was not over.

Earlier, Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval, appearing for the CBI, told the Bench that the status report was sent to the Central Vigilance Commission, which was expected to send it back to the CBI on November 6. Thereafter, it would be submitted to the court in a sealed cover.

Contempt petition

The Bench also allowed an application of Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy to implead the Indian company of Advantage Strategic Consulting Singapore Pte Ltd. a company substantially owned and controlled by Karti Palaniappan Chidambaram (contemnor No.1), in the contempt petition filed by him against Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and his son.

Dr. Swamy alleged that Mr. Karti Chidambaram had arranged to file a defamation suit against him in a court in Singapore, which amounted to indirectly interfering with the 2G case proceedings. Dr. Swamy said the Singapore company was wholly owned by the Indian company, which had close links with contemnor 1. The Bench, however, adjourned the hearing in this matter.

The Bench made it clear that the CBI was free to proceed with its investigation against Anil Kumar, secretary, Telecom Watchdog, for allegedly interfering with the probe in the 2G spectrum case.

Meanwhile, Dr. Swamy filed a petition seeking a review of the judgment that gave a clean chit to Mr. Chidambaram in the 2G case. On August 24, the Supreme Court dismissed his petition for directing the trial court to make Mr. Chidambaram an accused in the ongoing 2G trial.

In his review petition, Dr. Swamy said one of his contentions was that there was prima facie case against Mr. Chidambaram to hold that he had committed an offence under Section 13(1) (d) (iii) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Mr. Chidambaram, who was holding the office as Minister of Finance, obtained pecuniary advantage by permitting for Swan (later Etisalaat) and Unitech (later Uninor) licences at the 2001 discovered price of Rs. 1,650 crore with excess bundled spectrum of 6.5 mhz, which were actually worth several times that figure.

Dr. Swamy alleged that the transaction of granting these licences to Swan and Unitech were clearly without any public interest warranting a review of the judgment. He said the Supreme Court should decide an important question of law, viz “whether criminal intention or mens rea is an essential ingredient in Section 13 (1) (d) (iii) of the Prevention of Corruption Act to convict an accused?