The Supreme Court was told Wednesday that Home Minister P. Chidambaram, in his earlier capacity of finance minister, overruled officials who favoured an upward revision of the 2G telecom licence fee in 2008.
The officials maintained that either 2G licences should be auctioned or there should be an upward revision in their prices and they should not be allocated in 2008 at 2001 prices, the court was told by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).
“The officials of the finance ministry kept on saying that you cannot give spectrum in 2008 at 2001 prices,” the CPIL told an apex court special bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice K.S.P. Radhakrishnan hearing the 2G case.
The court is hearing pleas by the CPIL and Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking a court-monitored Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into Chidambaram’s role in fixing the 2G spectrum price along with then communications minister A. Raja in 2008.
Arguing for the CPIL, counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that both Chidambaram and Raja knew that the companies being allotted spectrum would use it to earn premium by way of merger and acquisition of these firms.
Bhushan told the court that when this process started taking place, Chidrambram sought to describe it as an infusion of more capital.
The CPIL told the court that department of telecommunications’ (DoT) recommendation to hike the licence fee by 3.5 times too was ignored.
The court asked Bhushan to show that document wherein DoT recommended hiking the prices by 3.5 times.
The judges asked the CBI to submit an updated report on their investigations into 2G scam. The court also wanted to know about the progress made on its probe in other countries including Mauritius and Isle of Man.
Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, who appeared for the CBI, told the court that they would required three weeks.
Venugopal told the court that letter rogatory had been sent to several countries but that by itself would not be sufficient and would not evoke a response unless teams were sent to these countries.