SC pulls up Sibal, CBI asked not to heed to his remarks on 2G

New Delhi, Jan 21 (PTI) Telecom Minister Kapil Sibalwas today ticked off by the Supreme Court for undermining theCAG report in the 2G scam and told to "behave with some senseof responsibility".

"It is unfortunate. The minister should behave withsome sense of responsibility," a bench comprising Justices G SSinghvi and A K Ganguly said.

The court''s remark came after Janata Party presidentSubramaniam Swamy contended that Sibal''s statement mightinfluence the investigation carried out by the CBI under thesupervision of the apex court.

Sibal had termed as "utterly erroneous and without anybasis" the estimated loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore to theexchequer projected by the CAG on account of allocation of 2Gspectrum to telecom operators by his predecessor A Raja.

The apex court directed the CBI to go ahead with theprobe into the scam without getting influenced by any body''sstatement.

"In our opinion, the CBI which is conductinginvestigation into the 2G scam is expected to carry out theprobe without being influenced by the statement made byanybody, anywhere, including the press," the bench said.

"We do not think that CBI should get influenced byanybody as the case is under the virtual supervision of thethis court," it said

Raja was forced to resign as Telecom minister in thewake of the allegations of irregularities in the spectrumallocation.

The court indicated that the telecom companies, whichhave been illegally granted licence or have failed to complywith their roll-out obligations, cannot get away with justpaying penalty and their licences might be cancelled.

The Court asked Swamy to file an application seekingto restrain the Department of Telecommunication from acceptingthe penalty from the erring companies after it was pointed outthat the telecom companies are getting away after paying smallfines imposed by the government.

The bench also issued notices to 11 private telecomcompanies and sought their response on why their licencesshould not be cancelled as pleaded by Swamy.

The private telecom companies which were issuednotices included Etisalat, Uninor, Loop Telecom, Videocon,S-Tel, Allianz Infra, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices,Sistema Shyam Teleservices, Dishnet Wireless andVodafone-Essar.

Swamy submitted that "process of compounding ofillegality has began as the erring companies are being let offafter paying small fine." .

The apex court also sought the reply of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for allegedly not takingaction against the telecom firms and defaulting in meetingtheir roll out obligations. It posted the matter for furtherhearing on February 1.

The bench was hearing Swamy''s plea seeking apexcourt''s direction to the CBI to ensure that nothing, includingSibal''s public criticism of the CAG report, affected itsinvestigation.

He had moved the court last week apprehending that thetelecom minister''s recent criticism of CAG report on 2Gspectrum allocation may influence the ongoing CBI probe.

"It is apprehended that intemperate and uncalled forpublic attack on the CAG methodology (by the telecom minister)before the national press may prejudice the CBI investigationsand cause an obstruction to justice," Swamy had said in hisapplication.

"This court has directed monitoring of the CBI probeinto the criminal culpabilities in the 2G spectrum scam andhas specifically directed CBI to take the CAG Report as thebasis for it," Swamy had said, recalling the court''s December16 order.

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