Saturday, December 18, 2010
Jurisdiction of the judiciary
It is not normal for the SCI to dictate modus operandi to any law enforcing agency inquiring into any serious charges. But now the court has taken up the inquiry which adds to the burden of the existing ship load of cases pending before the judiciary. This move comes as the confidence in the executive for the petitioners and the bench as well was non-existent and eroded respectively.
When the counsel for the PIL petitioners asked for a special team to investigate the matter, the bench said that for the moment it was against constituting any special team to probe the issue and had instead decided to monitor the probe all by itself by calling for reports on the status of the probe being conducted by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
"The CBI shall, if it has already not registered a first information report (FIR) in the context of the alleged irregularities committed in the grant of licences from 2001 to 2006-07, now register a case and conduct thorough investigation. Also probe as to how several ineligible applicants got licences in 2008 and who was responsible for the same," said the judges.
Apart from conducting a probe into the issues highlighted by the CVC and the CAG report with regards to the allotments made by Raja, the court also instructed the CBI to probe as to why the TRAI and the DoT did not take action against licensees who sold their stakes for thousands of crores and others who did not fulfil the roll-out obligations.
The petitioners had requested the court to take the assistance of one or two officers of unimpeachable integrity in monitoring the investigation being conducted by the CBI. But the bench said that it would decide on this request based on the first progress report of the CBI to be submitted on 10/2/2011, in a sealed envelope. This may leave the media in dismay for being deprived of exclusive scoops. Point to note here is that, the court has not expressed unswerving confidence on the CBI, but has given it a chance to prove its mettle. Shame on an institution which has been doing the policing job for decades, but deserving due to the recent debaucheries from impartiality by the CBI.
But the slap on the face for the disgraced minister A.Raja came when his lame duck defence of religiously following the predecessors was turned down, with the judges snapping his counsel saying the question was of violation of policy and not of following the policy as argued by him. Yet the court decided to widen the spectrum of the probe to allotments made by Raja's predecessors from 2001.
The Apex court also censured the Delhi High court for dismissing the petition seeking CBI probe into the 2G spectrum allocation case. “The High Court has committed serious error in dismissing the writ petition. Prima facie, there was sufficient material supported by documents to proceed on the allegation,” the bench observed.
Also, the Apex court has ordered the investigating agencies to probe the transfer of dual technology — CDMA and GSM, opining that while the notification for the dual technology was issued on October 19, 2007, one of the service provider was given the permission a day earlier.
The investigation will also cover huge loans by public sector banks to the beneficiary firms and if DoT officials were signatory to the licence agreements, the bench said. The bench instructed the CBI and ED to carry out investigations without being influenced by any individual, their ranks, functionaries and agencies. This instruction gains importance as the pamolein tainted CVC Thomas has earlier offered to recuse himself from teh 2G specturm license scam, when his credentials were questioned on the grounds of impeccable integrity.
The Government cannot go to the SCI now and submit that they would ensure a free and fair investigation in this case, since their commitment to free and fair investigations took a severe beating when the AG told the court that impeccable integrity could never be considered as a criteria for top jobs of Government.
The CBI might not be able to complete the probe within the agreed deadline as the ambit of the inquiry has been widened to cover the deals right from 2001. The evidences and leads for the Raja wrongs are readily available with recent documents, CVC & CAG reports and the Radia tapes, but still the CBI has to start from square one in the cases of Raja's predecessors. Also the money swindled through 2G scam was routed through hawala investment allegedly to European countries including Netherlands and to the countries in the Arab Gulf including Libya, it is known from the preliminary investigation.So, keeping track of them and trailing them would be a time consuming international policing exercise.
Also, the court has accepted the argument that there should be a nexus between the 2G beneficiaries and the realty loan scam, since most of the firms those got the 2G licenses were realty firms and they were given exorbitant amount of loans flaunting the basic banking process followed in loans given to ordinary citizens. The basic structure of the constitution was shaken here as citizens of India were being treated differently for some illicit considerations.
The CM of TamilNadu is singing the old tune of action upon proof of guilty, which is a clear departure from his earlier stand of caste based discrimination by aggressive upper castes. The allegations of property worth hundreds of crores have been transferred to the CM's family members were refuted with reasons those fit the definition of the word unreasonable. How could the person handling the property matters of the CM's second wife get the power of attorney for property worth billions with the CM's family not even noticing it.
Well, with the SCI taking up the investigation in it's hands, we can expect not only some incisive questions to the conspirators, colluders, perpetrators and criminals but action too. But, come to think of the investigation process, we can only hope that files do not go missing in this case as in the Adarsh Housing scam.
The most boasted impeccable honesty of the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh took a dip when he, in May 2010, infamously said that he felt no further inquiry against Raja is needed as Raja himself had told him nothing wrong had happened. Now, with the Supreme Court of India taking up the job of monitoring inquiries to ensure impartiality and justice to the job, his Government has lost it's credibility. This confirms one thing. Dr. Manmohan Singh has stepped into the shoes of the late President Faqruddin Ali Ahmed stamping his approval in anything that came to him for consent. The de facto authority then was Indira Gandhi, now it is Sonia Gandhi.
The jurisdiction of the judiciary has to be widened due to the amoral attitude of the Government and the normative economist attitude of the Prime Minister. We need a Government which cares for the people and a PM who walks the talk rather than the one who doesn't even talk when a run is needed.