File complete report, especially from the time department got Radia tapes

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Income Tax department to file a comprehensive report on its probe into the role of each person involved in the 2G scam from the time it got tapes of the telephonic conversations of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly gave this direction after perusing the report filed by the Additional Director-General (Investigation) in the I-T department.

Justice Singhvi told Additional Solicitor-General Vivek Tanka that the report should explain the probe from 2008 in general and from October 2010, from the time it got the tapes of Ms. Radia's conversations, in particular.

While the investigation by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate had been fast-paced, the I-T department was rather slow in its probe, the judge said. “Since these are cases of tax evasion, the I-T department should have been quicker in its investigation. The figures given in its status report are mindboggling. These are not ordinary cases which require ordinary process. We would like to have a detailed and comprehensive report to be submitted by May 13.”

When Mr. Tanka told the court that the probe had entered the “fifth layer” and the approach to the case was not tardy, Justice Singhvi said: “We are not concerned about layers but results.”

The Bench granted the I-T department the liberty to approach the CBI special judge trying the 2G scam if it wanted to examine any official in custody.

Appearing for the petitioner, Prashant Bhushan referred to the two charge sheets filed, and faulted the CBI for not catching the “big fish.”

Pointing out that three Reliance Telecom officials had been arrested, he alleged that the CBI was trying to shield chairman Anil Ambani as also top persons in Tata Teleservices, who, he said, were the real beneficiaries. Counsel pleaded for a direction to appoint a committee of eminent persons to assist the court in monitoring the probe so that investigation would proceed on the right track.

Justice Singhvi told Mr. Bhushan: “You rest assured that no person, irrespective of their chair and wealth or their holding shares or holding high position, will confer any immunity from the law. So far investigation in the case has made some progress which would not have been possible in normal circumstances.”

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, however, submitted that investigation was still going on into the involvement of the Tata and Reliance companies. He opposed appointment of a monitoring committee, saying it would mean expressing a lack of confidence in the CBI probe. Investigating officers would proceed to Mauritius with Letters Rogatory to track the money trail in the 2G scam. He said the court could wait till July, when a further status report would be filed by the CBI and the ED after completion of investigation in Mauritius.

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