The Supreme Court today said it did not support the government’s move to replace senior advocate K K Venugopal as a lawyer for CBI and Enforcement Directorate in 2G spectrum allocation scam matter.
“Why should you be removed? No we need you to assist us. We will tell the central government. We know how to do it”, a bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra said when the issue came up during the hearing.
Venugopal, who was recently conferred with the Padma Vibhushan, had said he did not want to continue as a lawyer in the case and referred to the communication he had received from an Under Secretary level officer from the Revenue Department about his removal.
He later gave in to the insistence of the bench that it will not let him go and said he has no option but to assist. “The CBI probe is practically over except the Aircel- Maxis case with regard to Chidambaram and all”, he said.
“Since we are coming to the final stage, can you not assist us”, the bench asked him and then said, “We request Shri K K Venugopal, the respected senior counsel, to continue to assist us in the matter by appearing for CBI and the Enforcement Directorate. We direct the CBI and the ED to continue instructing Venugopal”.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO CPIL, supported the stand of the apex court and said Venugopal, who has dealt with the matter since the beginning, was required to continue. This view was also shared by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.
The CBI also placed before the court a fresh status report on the progress of its probe into the 2G spectrum allocation scam cases by covering in its ambit the investigation concerning former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.
The CBI, in its charge sheet filed last year, had said it will investigate the circumstances under which the FIPB approval given in 2006 by the then Finance Minister in the Aircel-Maxis deal in which ex-Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanidhi Maran have been chargesheeted.
“We are filing the status report in four sealed covers which include the investigation concerning P Chidambaram”, Venugopal submitted before a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Arun Mishra.
Venugopal's submission came on behalf of CBI after senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy complained that the chargesheet in the Aircel-Maxis deal was filed a year ago but nothing was coming out about the probe into the FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) clearance given to the venture when Chidambaram was the Finance Minister.
Swamy submitted that because of some reasons, the probes by CBI and the ED into the Aircel-Maxis deal have been stuck and were not moving further.
“Nothing is known about the status reports filed in sealed cover earlier relating to the case”, he contended.
He said that Chidambaram was interrogated by the CBI in December last year and thereafter nothing has happened and the CAG report has supported the allegations against him. The agency in its chargesheet submitted in the Special Court had said that Mauritius-based M/s Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis, had sought approval for USD 800 million for which Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) was competent to do so.
Caricature by Dwijith C.V.