Info-tech

2G: Apex court notice to CBI on Essar-Loop ‘link’

Arun S New Delhi | Updated on January 05, 2012 Published on January 05, 2012

Mr Salman Khushid

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the CBI on an application asking the reasons for not booking Essar Teleholdings Ltd, Loop Telecom and their promoters under the Prevention of Corruption Act in connection with the 2G spectrum case.

The apex court also sought to know the agency’s response on the allegation in the application that the Law Minister, Mr Salman Khurshid, was “interfering” in the probe in the Essar-Loop matter and that he had “publicly given a clean chit to Essar/Loop.”

The application, filed by the NGO ‘the Centre for Public Interest Litigation’, had also alleged that the CBI chargesheet in the Essar-Loop matter had left out the role of the public servants.

The apex court also wanted the CBI to respond to the allegation of the NGO (represented by advocate Mr Prashant Bhushan) that the agency was “deliberately” going slow against former Telecom Minister Mr Dayanidhi Maran in the Aircel deal case after registering the FIR (the case relates to Mr Maran allegedly forcing the Aircel’s owner to sell the company to an entrepreneur having ‘links’ to his family's businesses).

The NGO also pointed fingers at Shyam Telelink being left out of the CBI probe and questioned how the company’s application for 2G licence was entertained by the Department of Telecom despite it being 'ineligible'.

The apex court has issued notice also to the Enforcement Directorate and the Union Government regarding the NGO’s application and all these allegations. They have been asked to file a reply in ten days and the matter will be heard again on January 20.

The CBI had last month filed a chargesheet before a Special Court in connection with the 2G case against Essar Group, Loop Telecom and their promoters. It had levelled charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy against all, but not under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The allegation against Essar is that though it had substantial stake in Vodafone Essar, it set up Loop Telecom as a front company or an ‘alter ego', in violation of the existing norms to illegally obtain additional spectrum. Essar has denied all charges.

The NGO's application before the apex court had alleged that though the CBI’s Investigation Officers dealing with the Essar-Loop matter had apparently/reportedly proposed charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the CBI finally decided against doing so.

It further said, "There is a possibility of this (Essar-Loop) case being taken away from the Special Judge dealing with 2G cases as case of cheating is triable by a magistrate. Such an event would be a complete misreading of the Supreme Court’s order designating the Special Court to deal with all 2G cases."

Published on January 05, 2012
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