It was inevitable. A.Raja’s continuation as Union Minister had become untenable. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh must have asked Raja to leave the cabinet long ago; 11 months ago to be precise. He was in possession with material by Dr. Subramanian Swamy along with a sanction to prosecute Raja. This is what the Supreme Court judges asked last week. Well. Swamy’s application for sanction is now infructuous. He can now go ahead with a private complaint against Raja.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, may ask the Union Government to explain a number of things. The CAG report too will be discussed in the media. The auditor, after all, has unravelled lot of things and it is clear that the sale of 2G spectrum was not a clean business. One may disagree with the CAG’s estimate of loss to the Government as such. But then, any disagreement will be only on the quantum: as to whether it was as much as 176000 crores or a little less. But then, one will have to simply guess as to whether the nation’s loss is anyone’s gain? And whether Raja himself gained money from out of the spectrum sale.
I do not think that the Supreme Court will bother to find this out. The apex court, after all, does not have the brief or the powers to investigate into money trails. The court can, however, order the CBI, an agency equipped with the powers as well as the know how to follow and track money trails. This, however, will mean that the Union Government as well as the political leadership of the Congress – Sonia Gandhi to be specific – will have to decide to catch the thief! Let us not be under any illusion that the CBI will do a proper job without being told clearly to catch the thief.
This is where one is forced to turn cynical. The CBI, after all, did not catch the thief in the Bofors scandal. The CBI, after all, has not been able to establish the case against Lalu Prasad Yadav in the fodder scam. The CBI is simply turning into a joke in the cases of corruption involving Mayawati, Mulayam Singh and a number of others. The CBI, though meant to be an autonomous organisation is indeed a wing of the Union Government. It is a fact that has been proved by the agency on so many occasions in the past. The CBI, for instance, has had to change its track many times in the case involving Shibhu Soren.
In other words, there can be little hope that the beneficiaries in the multi-crore 2G spectrum sale will remain far away from the long arm of the law. As for instance, the CAG report as well as the various other stories that have spilt out convey the fact that while someone there took a lot of money to bend the rules and sell spectrum for a song, there is also an implicit message there that some people went about paying up money to buy spectrum for cheap and sell it to others for more money. This is also an illegal act and there are provisions in the Indian Penal Code to act against such persons.
The media is already telling us some of the big players behind some of the shady companies that bought spectrum: The media is also informing us the names of the corporate houses behind these shady companies. The Supreme Court, whose role in ensuring the exit of Raja from the cabinet – let us be clear that the Union Minister had to go only because the matter was listed before the apex court the day after on Monday, November 15, 2010. And Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could not have brazened it out given the revelations in the media.
The apex court will do the nation a huge service by deciding to expand the scope of the case before itself and order the CBI to investigate the case in all its aspects and also order that the investigating agency report the progress of the investigation to the bench. It will also make a difference if the apex court appoints a body consisting of advocates, eminent citizens and responsible media professionals who have brought the story of robbery with such clarity to help the court in this job.
This becomes necessary given our own experience in the past with such scandals. The spectrum sale done when Raja was the Minister must be reopened and those who bought them in 2007 must be asked to pay up the actual cost or return what they bought for a song. Justice cannot be dispensed piecemeal. The corrupt lot in the corporate world too must be brought to book. This is a case that involves the sale of airwaves that belongs to all the people who live in this country.