The issue has a much wider compass; what happened in 2001 needs to be looked into: Justice Singhvi

The Supreme Court on Wednesday indicated to the CBI that it should go deep into the 2G spectrum matter, extending its probe to cover the period from 2001 when the first come, first served policy was followed for spectrum allocation.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly reserved verdict at the conclusion of marathon arguments by Prashant Bhushan, counsel for the petitioner, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation; senior counsel K.K. Venugopal for the CBI; Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam; senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina for the former Minister, A. Raja; and Additional Solicitor-General Harin Raval for the ED.

At the resumed hearing, Mr. Venugopal said the probe would be completed in two months and the report submitted in March.

Justice Singhvi told counsel: “The issue raised in this case is not only limited to Rs 1.76 lakh crore, but has a much wider compass. We would not like to prejudice the probe. But what happened in 2001 needs to be looked into. It is for the CBI to investigate and find out.”

Justice Singhvi drew counsel's attention to the policy of transfer of dual technology (CDMA and GSM) and pointed out that though the notification for dual technology was issued on October 19, 2007, one of the service providers was given permission a day earlier. The CAG has not investigated this matter. Why don't you [the CBI] look into the matter from 2001?” he told Mr. Venugopal that the CBI should investigate why bidding did not take place in 2006 when the spectrum allocation was frozen because of its non-availability.

Mr. Venugopal assured the court that all aspects would be investigated. Once the report was submitted, if the court found any lapse, further directions could be given in a sealed cover. But Justice Singhvi said: “Giving orders in sealed cover will not be conducive to the administration of justice; it is not warranted as it will give rise to speculation. The functioning of the court and the hearing of the case or the order of the court is not influenced by any criticism.”

To this, Mr. Venugopal said it would be open to the court to pass orders in open court or in a sealed cover.

Mr. Raval submitted in a sealed cover the report of the Enforcement Directorate on the progress of the probe so far, and what the Directorate proposed to do further. He explained the details of the investigation since March 9, 2010 after a case was registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Foreign Exchange Management Act. The information on the flow of money into and out of 10 countries was being looked into, and the Directorate would furnish the court with the status report.

More In: National | News