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

New Delhi: Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal was on Friday ticked off by the Supreme Court for undermining the CAG report in the 2G scam and told to "behave with some sense of responsibility".

"It is unfortunate. The minister should behave with some sense of responsibility," a bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said.

The court`s remark came after Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy contended that Sibal`s statement might influence the investigation carried out by the CBI under the supervision of the apex court.

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

The apex court directed the CBI to go ahead with the probe into the scam without getting influenced by any body`s statement.

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

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

Raja was forced to resign as Telecom minister in the wake of the allegations of irregularities in the spectrum allocation.

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

The Court asked Swamy to file an application seeking to restrain the Department of Telecommunication from accepting the penalty from the erring companies after it was pointed out that the telecom companies are getting away after paying small fines imposed by the government.

The bench also issued notices to 11 private telecom companies and sought their response on why their licences should not be cancelled as pleaded by Swamy.

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

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

The apex court also sought the reply of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for allegedly not taking action against the telecom firms and defaulting in meeting their roll out obligations. It posted the matter for further hearing on February 1.

The bench was hearing Swamy`s plea seeking apex court`s direction to the CBI to ensure that nothing, including Sibal`s public criticism of the CAG report, affected its investigation.

He had moved the court last week apprehending that the telecom minister`s recent criticism of CAG report on 2G spectrum allocation may influence the ongoing CBI probe.

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

"This court has directed monitoring of the CBI probe into the criminal culpabilities in the 2G spectrum scam and has specifically directed CBI to take the CAG Report as the basis for it," Swamy had said, recalling the court`s December 16 order.