Against the backdrop of alleged collusion between Central Bureau of Investigation prosecutor and an accused in 2G scam, CBI chief Ranjit Sinha today insisted that it has not "polluted" the probe into the case but admitted that the agency's reputation suffers by such incidents.
Sinha was grilled by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G scam, with members posing tough questions over the agency's credibility and asking how it had failed to detect the alleged collusion between its prosecutor A K Singh and Unitech Managing Director Sanjay Chandra.
Describing the incident as an "eye-opener", the CBI chief told the JPC that even the agency was surprised over the alleged development although it has counter-intelligence mechanism in place which could not detect it.
"The CBI Director clarified that A K Singh is one of the prosecutors (in the 2G case) assisting chief prosecutor U U Lalit appointed by the Supreme Court...He (Sinha) said Singh was only one of the prosecutors, therefore, the investigation into the case has not been polluted (by the alleged collusion)," JPC Chairman P C Chacko told reporters after the meeting.
The taped conversation purportedly between Singh and Chandra related to legal strategy of the case.
Sinha said after the purported expose, Singh has been removed from the case and a new prosecutor has been appointed in his place.
Noting that both Singh and Chandra have denied the conversation, the CBI chief said any punitive action can take place only after forensic test and further inquiry.
Sinha said the tape of the conversation was given to a DIG in CBI by a "source" 10 days back and indicated that the interception was carried out by some private entity.
Members asked the CBI to find out whether the tape was a "plant" and the "intention" of the source in handing it over to an official.
Replying to a volley of questions from the members, Sinha said it is unlikely that the tapping was carried out by any government agency.
Chacko said the JPC would not call Singh and Chandra as witnesses as their alleged conversation was not part of the Terms of Reference of the JPC.
On the issue of quantification of losses due to allocation of 122 2G licences, the CBI chief told the committee that as per its estimate it was to the tune of Rs 30,984.55 crore.
"The Supreme Court had directed it to quantify the losses...on the issue of quantification of losses caused to the exchequer due to criminality of intent in the allocation of 122 UAS licences and also allocation of additional spectrum beyond eligibility, CBI has calculated a loss of Rs 30,984.55 crore," Chacko said.
He said while Rs 22,000 crore is loss for licences, Rs 8,000 crore is loss due to allocation of additional spectrum beyond eligibility. The probe agency had used the method of indexation to arrive at the figures.
The members expressed anguish at the "snail pace" of investigations being carried out abroad.
CBI said while cases in India have been investigated, the probe in foreign countries was still pending.
The agency has sent Letters Rogatory to Malaysia, United Kingdom, Mauritius and Bermuda and their execution is being pursued with the help of Interpol and respective high commissions, CBI said in a power point presentation to the JPC.
"They cannot do much till the LRs are replied to," Chacko said.