CVC has offered to recuse himself from 2G inquiry, Centre tells SC

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 2 2010, 05:40am hrs
Under heat from the Supreme Court, which questioned the tenability of Chief Vigilance Commissioner PJ Thomas objectivity to monitor the 2G spectrum investigation on Tuesday, the government on Wednesday informed the court that Thomas has volunteered to recuse himself from supervising the probe being conducted by the CBI in the case.

A Bench of Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly recorded solicitor general Gopal Subramaniums submission that Thomas has decided not to be a part of the investigations into the 2G spectrum scam, which allegedly cost the nation about Rs 1,75,000 crore.

Taking note of the apprehension that tapes might also disappear like crucial papers of Mumbais Adarsh Housing Society scam, the court also directed the government to deposit the tapes related to conversations between corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and others in a sealed cover after preparing the copies. Tapes will be kept in the lockers of the registry

However, Thomas while replying to a question about his name figuring as an accused in the chargesheet in the palmoleine import case in Kerala, said that After all this, the government had appointed me as CVC and I am still continuing as CVC.

Senior counsel TR Andharijuna, appearing for the disgraced former telecom minister A Raja, told the court that Raja was a victim of media trial and the so-called mind boggling figures of loss to the exchequer in the allocation of the 2G spectrum by CAG was presumptive and subjective and would not stand judicial scrutiny.

It may be noted that Tata group of companies chairman Ratan Tatas petition will be heard by the same Bench on Thursday. He has alleged that the leakage of the tapes have infringed upon his fundamental Right to Privacy and the conversations with Radia were purely private in nature and had nothing to do with the 2G spectrum case.

On the issue of bypassing the Prime Ministers reservations over the spectrum allocation policy followed by disgraced former telecom minister A Raja, the judges observed that the government cannot function like a private business house. The governments action has to be reasonable and in public interest.

It wondered how only 45 minutes were given to prospective licensees for submitting documents, including demand draft and complying with other formalities.

It is unfortunate that we are all witness to what has happened. The entire system has been brought to disrepute. The Prime Minister had made his reservations clear which was not treated with respect. There are requirements of collective responsibility, the judges observed.

Questioning the solicitor general, it said: Would you not call this arbitrary Would you consider this as a reasonable way of functioning by the government department.. The government has to function predictably and reasonably.

In the sequence of events, unequivocally, reservations pointed out by the Prime Minister ought to have been given more attention and lot more importance. These reservations were entitled to the highest respect, Subramanium replied while answering the Bench about his opinion on the issue.