The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the CBI to go ahead with its probe in the Aircel-Maxis deal without waiting for necessary sanction against an official "holding high position" in connection with irregularities in the case arising out of 2G scam.
A bench of justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan expressed concern over "very tardy progress in the probe of the case" allegedly involving former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and granted two months to wrap up procedure for filing charge sheet.
It asked the CBI to file the chargesheet irrespective of whether Malaysian authorities provide details on the controversial deal or not.
"It is clarified that the final probe of the case should not be delayed on that account," the bench said while making it clear that "it is interested that the matter should reach the logical end".
"We are concerned that the chargesheet should be filed. Unfortunately for the last three years they have been investigating a particular side of the case which is not relevant. But we will not pass any order as it will derail the case. So whatever be the case it should reach a final conclusion," the bench said.
The apex court made the remarks after taking note of CBI's contention that the delay in completing the probe was due to non-cooperation from Malaysian authorities despite the issuance of letters of rogatory (LoR).
The apex court also directed the CBI to place before it the minutes of the March 7, 2006 meeting of the FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) giving nod to the deal after Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy alleged that clearance granted to it was not on official records.
"CBI has got the minutes of March 7, 2006 meeting of FIPB. We would like to see the minutes next Wednesday," the bench said and asked the agency "not to be hesitant in investigating any person".
The bench made it clear that "there was no impediment for the CBI to investigate any person" and the agency "shall comprehensively investigate all issues".
"CBI, which is conducting investigation under the supervision of this court shall not be hesitant to interrogate any person which is clear from our first order of December 16, 2010. CBI shall comprehensively investigate all issues," the bench said while directing the CBI to fulfil within two months the procedural requirement for completing the probe before filing the charge sheet.
Maran has been accused of forcing Chennai-based telecom promoter C Sivasankaran to sell stakes in Aircel in 2006 to a Malaysian firm Maxis Group owned by Kuala Lumpur-based business tycoon T Ananda Krishnan.
Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, placed a fresh status report about its probe into the Aircel-Maxis deal and said the agency had made a request for grant of sanction under section 6A Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act to investigate "a gentleman holding a high position".
However, the bench made it clear that the agency can go ahead with its investigation relating to the person without the grant of sanction as the probe in the case was being monitored by the apex court.
"In the normal case of investigation by the CBI, the requirement of section 6A of the Act would be applied but we have made it clear in our order that since the probe in this case is being monitored by this court you are free to go ahead with investigation without section 6A sanction," the bench said.
While seeking two months time to wrap up the probe, Venugopal said three things relating to the Aircel-Maxis deal --valuation of shares, forensic accounting and sanction aspect--required to be completed.
However, the bench said for everything CBI should not come to the court as "there has been very tardy progress in the case" which has been under investigation for over two years.
CBI had started preliminary inquiry into the case on January 4, 2011 and nine months after on October 9 had registered the FIR. The CBI had earlier told the apex court that it has completed its probe against Maran and it will go ahead in the case on the basis of material and evidence available to it.
The agency in July, 2011 had placed a status report in the court stating that during 2004-07 when Maran was telecom minister, Sivasankaran was coerced to sell the stake in Aircel to Maxis Group.
The CBI status report, part of which was read, had said that the Malaysian firm was favoured by Maran and was granted licence within six months after taking over Aircel in December 2006. Maran was the Telecom Minister between February 2004 and May, 2007.
"The gentleman (promoter of Aircel) had been knocking at various doors but was left with no choice but to sell his shares to a Malaysian form," the CBI had said. The NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, had earlier placed documents before the apex court on the alleged role of Maran in favouring Maxis group which had bought Aircel, owned by Siva Group, when he was Telecom Minister.