row continues as apex court frowns on PM's silence
Tuesday November 16, 2010 10:33:20 PM,
The political crisis over the 2G spectrum allotment scam deepened
Tuesday with parliament adjourned for the fourth successive day
following opposition protests, and the Supreme Court taking an
exception to the 15-month "inaction" and "silence" of Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh over a letter regarding the charges
against then telecom minister A. Raja.
The government came under further pressure as it tabled in
parliament the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG),
which seriously indicted Raja for the arbitrary decisions that
resulted in a revenue loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore (nearly $40
billion) to the nation.
While the Congress said it was awaiting the details of the court
observations, political circles are keenly awaiting the court
The political discussions on the spectrum scam shifted from
developments in parliament to the next hearing in the apex court
in the case filed by former central minister Subramanian Swamy
seeking permission to prosecute Raja.
Meanwhile, an all-party meeting Tuesday failed to resolve the
impasse in parliament over the opposition's demand for a Joint
Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam with
both the government and the opposition sticking to their
Parliament proceedings were repeatedly disrupted Tuesday as
opposition MPs continued to demand a JPC probe into the 2G
spectrum allocation but the government hurriedly managed to table
the CAG report in both houses despite the commotion.
The Supreme Court Tuesday took exception to the 15-month "silence"
of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Swamy's public interest
litigation seeking sanction to initiate proceedings against then
telecom minister A. Raja over the 2G spectrum allocation.
"His right to ask for sanction is a right under the law given to
citizens in democracy. You say that his right is not mature," the
court noted. Swamy had submitted an application to the prime
minister Nov 29, 2008, seeking permission to initiate proceedings
against Raja under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
On March 19 this year, Swamy received a reply from the Prime
Minister's Office stating that since the Central Bureau of
Investigation (CBI) was probing the matter, it was "premature" to
decide on his application.
In a cutting remark, the court said that three months may not be
sufficient to decide on such an application. But 15 months was too
long a period.
For the prime minister to say that it is premature "is troubling
us", the judges observed. "Premature means there is no maturity
level or maturity area," the court said.
The prime minister could have said that the material on record was
insufficient and declined the sanction, said the apex court bench
of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly.
The court referred to the "inaction and silence" of the prime
Pranab Mukherjee, speaking after the luncheon meeting that failed
to break the impasse in parliament, said that the opposition
leaders had conveyed their views.
"The leaders of opposition have expressed their views. They want a
JPC probe. I have expressed our difficulty and told them we shall
have to discuss among ourselves and communicate," Mukherjee said.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury
said the party wanted a JPC probe but it also conveyed at the
meeting that the government can suggest some other mechanism as
good as the JPC.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel said the
government conveyed that there were various ways to reach the
truth, including discussion in parliament.
Referring to allegations of corruption and irregularities in the
Commonwealth Games (CWG), for which too the opposition has
demanded a JPC probe, Patel said the government told the
opposition members that the V.K. Shunglu Committee was already
looking into it.
He said the government would again meet the opposition leaders
Thursday in a bid to resolve the impasse.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad
insisted that a JPC probe should be conducted into the 2G spectrum
"We told Pranab Mukherjee that Raja is a player and we need a JPC
probe and those involved and accused should be held accountable
and tried," he said.
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