How come there is a difference in CBI and CAG estimates?

The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the report of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on loss due to 2G spectrum allocation.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly, hearing applications filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy and advocate Prashant Bhushan, faulted the TRAI for its communication to the Central Bureau of Investigation on the loss.

Justice Singhvi asked senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, how come there was a difference in the losses estimated by the CBI and the Comptroller and Auditor-General, and said even the agency's estimated loss was contested. On the TRAI report, the judge said, “We are really surprised over the communication. It [TRAI] was created as an autonomous regulator by an Act of Parliament. By the said communication, what it [TRAI] has done and stated in recent days are a serious debatable issue.”

Mr. Venugopal, however, made it clear that the CBI had not accepted the TRAI report. “It is true that everybody is taking advantage of it.”

Justice Singhvi said, “Everything should be left to the court to decide. Let the system work on its own. We reserve our comments, lest they prejudice the case.”

The TRAI report, filed by the CBI as mentioned in its charge sheet, said it was not possible to calculate the exact loss to the exchequer due to the 2G spectrum allocation in 2008 during the tenure of A. Raja as Telecom Minister. The TRAI's communication also said it did not recommend auctioning of the 2G spectrum licence.

Mr. Venugopal said once the charge sheet was filed by the investigating agency, it was for the competent court to call for witnesses and to add names of new accused. The Supreme Court had no power to direct the CBI to conduct the probe in a particular manner or investigate a particular person based on the documents furnished by Dr. Swamy.

To a question from Justice Ganguly whether trial could commence after framing of charges or even at the stage of taking cognisance of the charge sheet, Mr. Venugopal said it would begin “the moment cognisance is taken by the trial court and it is for this court to decide the further course of investigation.”

Arguments will continue on Thursday.

  • Justice Singhvi: what the regulator has done is a serious, debatable issue
  • CBI has not accepted TRAI report: counsel