New Delhi, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy Wednesday submitted to the Supreme Court documents indicating that Home Minister P. Chidambaram, as the then finance minister, was along with jailed former communications minister A. Raja involved in deciding the 2G spectrum price.
Swamy presented the documents before the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly which is hearing his application seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into what he alleges to be the role of Chidambaram in deciding the price of 2G spectrum allocation.
The documents filed by Swamy included a communication of Jan 30, 2008, by the department of economic affairs of the finance ministry recording the gist of the meeting between the then finance minister Chidambaram and Raja.
The communication signed by the then finance secretary D. Subbarao said: “The FM (finance minister) said that for now we are not seeking to revisit the current regimes for entry fee or revenue sharing.”
Subbarao also recorded the finance minister’s suggestion that “keeping in view lessons of experience, allotment of licences and allocation of spectrum must be based on solid legal grounds”.
Swamy told the court that all along, on the question of 2G spectrum pricing, the then finance minister and his ministry’s officials were kept in the loop.
He pointed to various letters and internal communications and said that April 21, 2008, the then finance minister sent a “non-paper” to the communications minister, conveying that an “in principle” decision may be taken to price the spectrum beyond 4.4 MHz as has been suggested by the department of telecommunications (DoT).
While hearing Swamy’s application for CBI probe against Chidambaram, the court expressed its displeasure over the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) giving opinion on the quantum of loss suffered by the public exchequer in the allocation of licences and spectrum.
Justice Singhvi said the CBI’s estimation of 2G losses was much lower than the one by the Comptroller and Auditor General. And now even this was being questioned.
Expressing surprise over the opinion of the TRAI, Justice Singhvi said: “It is a seriously debatable matter what they have done recently. Everything has to be left to be decided by the (special) court. If the (apex) court is not saying anything deliberately so that it may not prejudice the case against the people, it should not be taken lightly.”
Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, who appeared for the CBI, described the TRAI opinion as “unfortunate” which was being taken advantage of by the people (accused). Venugopal told the court that the CBI had not accepted the TRAI opinion.
Venugopal also told the court that it could keep on hold the hearing on Swamy’s application till investigating agency completed its investigation and filed a status report in the court on the role of former communications minister Dayanidhi Maran in the change of ownership of telecom company Aircel and Loop Telecom.
Venugopal will continue his arguments Thursday.