Apex court pulls up IT department for tardy 2G probe (Second Lead)May 5th, 2011 - 9:03 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday pulled up the income tax department for its slow investigation in the 2G spectrum case and voiced astonishment at the “mind-boggling” figures in its status report. “We have never seen so many zeroes,” the court said.
While the court pulled up the IT department, it made it clear that the big fish would not get immunity from prosecution. “On this issue you can be assured that a person having wealth or certain shares would not get any immunity.”
The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly said it was conscious that there were certain lapses in the Vineet Narain case investigation (also known as Jain Hawala case). “It may not happen in this case, let us hope.” The court observation came in the wake of senior counsel Prashant Bhushan drawing its attention to this aspect of investigation.
The apex court bench while perusing the report of the income tax department observed that the figures in the report were mind boggling and it had not seen so many zeroes in a sum.
As the status report by the income tax department was being read to the court, Justice Ganguly said: “The figures are mind-boggling. We have never seen so many zeroes.”
As the court appeared astonished at the amount involved in the 2G scam, it chided the IT Department far carrying out probe at such a slow pace, whereas the probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Directorate of Enforcement (ED) has been “fast paced”.
Having slammed the IT department, the court directed the Director General, Income Tax, to file a comprehensive report giving full details of its probe into the role of people in the scam, in particular from the time it got the telephonic intercepts of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia tapes and from October 2010 to now.
The court asked the income tax department: “What was the day when you sent the notices and what was the progress on those notices?”
It said in the “last six months we have seen fast-paced investigations by the CBI and the ED. The IT department should have been much more quicker because they are not simple cases of tax evasion”.
The court osberved that “they (cases) should not be treated with an ordinary approach. You realise that this does not concern ordinary cases involving ordinary people. We would like to have a detailed and comprehensive report by May 16, 2011.”
The judges granted the income tax department the liberty to approach the CBI special judge trying the 2G scam if they wanted to examine any official in custody.
They also directed the department to supply copies of its status report to the CBI and the ED.
Prashant Bhushan made a plea for the appointment of a group of eminent persons to assist the court in monitoring investigation into the scam by the ED, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Income Tax department.
He expressed apprehension that the investigation and trial in 2G scam may meet the fiasco that met the trial in the Jain Hawala case.
Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, opposed a monitoring committee for now, saying it would mean expressing lack of confidence in the probe by the CBI.
He said officers of the CBI and the ED would proceed to Mauritius with letters rogatory to track the money trail in the 2G scam.
He said the court can wait till July when a further status report would be filed by the CBI and the ED on their teams’ return from Mauritius. Venugopal told the court that it should not take any decision on the plea for putting in place a monitoring mechanism, till it heard the investigating agency.
At this, Justice Singhvi said that in pursuance to the rule of natural justice it would not take any call till it heard him (Venugopal).
However, the court said it will hold further hearing May 13 on the plea of Prashant Bhushan for appointment of a monitoring committee.
The scam relates to irregularities in the allocation of airwaves to telecom firms that allegedly caused huge losses to the national exchequer. Several corporate bigwigs, besides former communications minister A. Raja, are in jail facing various charges in the scam.
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- CBI to file charge sheet against Raja March 31 (Lead) - Mar 16, 2011
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- Laws violated, documents forged in 2G scam: Apex court (Lead) - Mar 15, 2011
- Evidence of wrongdoings in 2G spectrum grant: Supreme Court (Second Lead) - Dec 16, 2010
- 2G scam: CBI to file third charge sheet by Sep 15 - Aug 24, 2011
- CBI open to filing report in apex court on spectrum probe (Lead) - Nov 24, 2010
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Tags: apex, apex court, asok kumar, astonishment, case investigation, cbi, central bureau of investigation, corporate lobbyist, court bench, court justice, ganguly, immunity from prosecution, income tax department, intercepts, lapses, New Delhi, prashant, senior counsel, slow pace, vineet narain