Supreme Court sets six-month deadline for 2G case probes

Maxis group of companies’ controlling owner T. Ananda Krishnan. File photo

Maxis group of companies’ controlling owner T. Ananda Krishnan. File photo  

Pulls up CBI, ED for delay and demands status report

“The country cannot be kept in the dark,” the Supreme Court said on Monday while directing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to complete investigation into all 2G spectrum scam cases, including the Aircel-Maxis deal case, in six months.

“This is a very important case and the country must know the results, whatever may be the decision. Why is this investigation taking too long? What are the reasons for delay. Is anybody behind the delay,” Justice Arun Mishra, heading a Bench comprising Justice Navin Sinha, asked Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal. The court said the case had come up before this Bench after four years and asked the agencies for a status report in two weeks.

“We want all answers to the questions raised by the Comptroller and Auditor-General in his report [on the 2G spectrum scam cases],” Justice Mishra said firmly.

Supreme Court sets six-month deadline for 2G case probes

“No stone shall be left unturned in this regard and all guilty shall be booked. Certain difficulties/resistance in the process were pointed by Shri K.K. Venugopal, Attorney General for India. Let those difficulties be placed on record,” said the order, released late in the evening, highlighting the possibility of a “hidden hand” behind the delay.

The two agencies have been investigating Aircel/Maxis telecom owner and Malaysian accused T. Ananda Krishnan and Ralph Marshall. The investigators are also examining allegations that former Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, ignored Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) regulations by clearing the foreign investment proposal in 2006 for a Mauritius company to acquire 73.99% equity in M/s Aircel Ltd, a telecom service provider.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, a party to the Supreme Court litigation, had alleged that the investment was worth about ₹3,500 crore or $800 million and Mr. Chidambaram had granted the FIPB approval without getting clearance from the Prime Minister-led Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs (CCEA).

Chidambaram plea

In a separate writ petition in the apex court, Mr. Chidambaram called the CBI and ED probe into the Aircel-Maxis case “illegal investigations”. This petition is pending in the apex court.

The ED is also looking into the money laundering aspects of the Aircel-Maxis deal. This includes the probe into the role of Mr. Chidambaram’s son, Karti, who is now in custody in connection with the INX Media FIPB approval case.

Mr. Venugopal informed the Bench that Mr. Ananda Krishnan was not co-operating with the investigation. The Malaysian government has also refused to participate in the probe despite letter rogatories.

The Bench posted the case for hearing on April 2.

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Printable version | May 23, 2020 12:31:23 AM |

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