New Delhi, Dec. 8: The Supreme Court today laid down five issues, including how state-owned banks gave huge loans to telecom licence aspirants, the CBI will have to probe in the 2G spectrum allocation case.
The five subjects are why the 2G licences were allotted, instead of being auctioned, how the licences were handed out to ineligible companies, why no action was taken against companies which did not fulfil their rollout obligations, why some companies were allowed to sell equity immediately and make a killing and how the banks gave loans to the licensees.
The court also asked the government to examine if special courts needed to be set up to look into financial scandals like 2G that involve complex issues.
Prashant Bhushan, the counsel for an NGO that moved the court, said several state-owned banks had handed out loans amounting to Rs 10,000 crore to some of the licensees, which included some real estate firms, that hypothecated the licences.
If it is true, it is astonishing, the court said.
Bhushan quoted reports that said the SBI granted a loan of Rs 2,500 crore to Uninor, a joint venture between real estate major Unitech Ltd and Norways telecom giant Telenor.
It is a matter of such great public importance. It needs to be covered under the CBI investigation, the bench said.
Senior advocate K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, said: If the court wants, we can conduct preliminary inquiry.
Bhushan referred to the recorded conversations between lobbyist Niira Radia and others and said it exposed various illegalities. However, the bench said: Till we get the contents of the tapes verified, we will not comment as your words will become headlines. Unless someone has actually heard it (tapes).
Bhushan told the bench he had personally heard the tapes. We will presume that you are an IT expert, the bench said in a lighter vein.
Justice A.K. Ganguly wondered why the government had given up the licences for a song. Is this commercial law? And all these are huge companies. No one is under BPL (below poverty line). Then why not give us petrol at 2001 prices? It is an absurd policy from any point of view.
The court wanted to know whether there was any substance in the reported statement of Union home secretary G.K. Pillai that what has come into public domain from the Niira Radia tape in connection with 2G spectrum was the tip of the iceberg.
We dont know whether it is true or not or whether he has given an interview at all, the bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and Ganguly said.
Pillai has made a statement or not? the bench asked, adding that it has become fashion also that a very senior officer gives interviews thinking it to be in public interest.
The top court is hearing a petition, filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), which has demanded that the court monitor the CBI probe.
The CBI has indicated that it is willing to submit itself to being monitored by the court. However, the agency sought more time to complete the probe. We will be able to wrap up probe into the money trail only by February, CBI counsel Venugopal said. All other aspects of the probe were in the final stages, he added.