Despite some breakthroughs made in the criminal investigation into the 2G-spectrum allocation scam, the Central Bureau of Investigation has been unable or unwilling to go more than half steam in the charge sheet filed before the Special Court constituted to hear the case. That the Supreme Court of India is monitoring the investigation does not seem to have prevented the CBI from wilting under political pressure and piecing together a charge sheet that is unsatisfactory on several counts. True, a charge sheet in a criminal case needs to be filed within 60 days of the arrest of the accused to ensure they are not entitled to bail, and the CBI was working under a time constraint. But this does not explain why the leads in the investigation have not been followed to their logical conclusion. The arrests too have been suspiciously selective. Robust investigation into the money trail — which according to the charge sheet leads circuitously to Kalaignar TV, a television channel owned by members of the family of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi — has been put off until after the Assembly elections, which is why there is talk of a supplementary charge sheet. The investigating agency appears to have relied for the most part on the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General. However, while the C&AG indicated presumptive losses between Rs.57,666 crore and Rs.176,645 crore, the charge sheet pegs the figure at about Rs.22,000 crore.

The CBI has also betrayed a keen desire to absolve Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of any culpability in the allocation of 2G spectrum by stating that he was “misled” on the issue and that he had “appropriately flagged the issue of processing of large number of applications received for fresh licences against the backdrop of inadequate spectrum to cater to overall demand.” As Arun Jaitley, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, has pointed out, the job of the investigating agency is to deal with criminality — not give a “clean chit” to any one. It is no one's case that the Prime Minister is criminally culpable but what is clear is that he had foreknowledge that something was rotten in the state of telecom, evidenced by the fact that he had received several complaints, which he took up with Telecom Minister A. Raja but failed to do anything about. It is possible that the CBI's investigation has been constrained by the proximity of the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and three other major States and that the situation will change after May 13. But what lowers public confidence in the independence of the investigation into India's biggest ever corruption scandal is the fact that other than Mr. Raja, no politician or major corporate figure has been named in the main charge sheet.

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