Prime Minister acted as per the Law Ministry's advice, court told

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has maintained that there was no delay or inaction on his part in considering all the letters received from Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking sanction for prosecution of A. Raja, who resigned as Communications Minister a few days ago.

A 10-page affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on Saturday by V. Vidyavati, Director in the Prime Minister's Office, submitted that the decision to grant prosecution of Mr. Raja could not have been taken without carefully examining the evidence collected by the CBI as had been done in all previous cases as per the advice of the Law Ministry.

The affidavit was filed complying with the November 18 court directions to explain the Prime Minister's alleged “silence and inaction for 16 months” from November 29, 2008 till a reply was sent to Dr. Swamy on March 19, 2010 from the Department of Personnel that it would be premature to consider sanction for prosecution at this stage because evidence collected was still being perused.

According to the affidavit, the PMO sought the Law Ministry's opinion on May 29, 2009 and after more than eight months it sent its reply on February 8, 2010.

The Ministry advised the PMO that since the CBI had already registered an FIR, it might be stated in the reply that a decision to accord sanction for prosecution might be determined only after the perusal of the evidence (oral or documentary) collected by the CBI and other materials to be provided.

Soon after the receipt of Dr. Swamy's complaint on November 29, 2008, the opinion of the Telecom Secretary was sought on December 11, 2008 and a reply was received on February 13, 2009, the affidavit said. In the meantime, two more letters, received from MPs Gurudas Das Gupta and Suravaran Sudhakar Reddy, were sent to the Telecom Ministry for its consideration. Another petition from an advocate and founder of Law Focus, Anil Gopal Variath, sent to the President on February 19, 2009 was forwarded to the PMO.

On May 30, after the petitioner sent a second letter, it was referred to the Anti Corruption Cell to find out whether a similar request was being handled, and it was found there was no such reference and in a similar case the matter was sent to the political wing.

The affidavit mentioned a letter written by Mr. Raja himself to the petitioner on June 18, 2009.

It noted that two further letters were received from the petitioner on October 23, 2009 and October 31, 2009 referring to the CBI raids at the Sanchar Bhavan and alleging that the then Minister, Raja, had committed offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The petitioner had also said that if sanction was not granted by November 15, 2009, he would approach the courts. These two letters were also forwarded to the Law Ministry for advice, which was received on February 8, 2010.

In the meantime, two more letters were received from the petitioner on March 8, 2010 and March 13, 2010 alleging that the Central Vigilance Commissioner had written to the Telecom Minister about the matter and that the CBI had registered a case.

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