An apex court bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice AK Ganguly was told that the “finance ministry took a consistent stand and never deviated from its position of auction and indexisation of 2G spectrum price (from 2001 top 2008)”.
Defending Chidambaram on the allegation of not taking a call on the cancellation of 2G licences, CBI senior counsel KK Venugopal told the court: “It is not an easy matter to decide. It can’t lead to criminality. It has to be decided by the government taking into account the litigation. It is not easy.”
Venugopal was opposing a Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) plea seeking direction to designate the CBI as a special investigation team (SIT) and its probe be monitored and supervised by two independent experts on a day-to-day basis.
“It is easy to attack the (then) finance minister (Chidambaram) as it is politically convenient and makes headlines,” Venugopal told the court.
The court was told that after the meeting of the telecom commission, which was to decide on 2G spectrum pricing, was postponed from Jan 9, 2008, to Jan 15, 2008, former communications minister A Raja jumped the gun and issued 122 letters of intent for 2G licences Jan 10, 2008, it was no longer feasible to press for fixing the price of spectrum that was already embedded with 122 2G licences.
“Thereafter our focus shifted (to the point) that (in future) the financial interests of the government were no longer compromised,” Venugopal told the court.
Opposing the CPIL plea for an outside monitoring of its investigation, Venugopal told the court that CBI probe so far had “clearly demonstrated that the CBI is independent of any control of the government”.
Venugopal said that “a minister (Raja) of a coalition partner and the daughter (Kanimozhi) of (the then) chief minister (M. Karunanidhi) were arrested and were presently in jail, a former minister had to resign and another very big player about whom decision would be taken very soon.”
He said the agency was carrying out its investigation independently without brooking any interference.
“According to me a very high profile case in the history of the country was being investigated by the (CBI) team day and night in order to show the progress made by it in the status report on every hearing of the case,” Venugopal said.
The case would come up for further hearing Oct 10.