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SC puts spotlight on PM, media in 2G spectrum scam; TOI tussles with SG Subramanium

A Supreme Court (SC) bench yesterday questioned the silence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while he sanctioned the prosecution go-ahead against tainted minister A Raja and for not initiating action in time following former law minister Subramaniam Swamy’s complaint, as solicitor general Gopal Subramanium defended the PM.

The Indian Express reported that a bench consisting of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly raised questions about the Government’s late response in allowing the prosecution of Raja:

“The court, which noted that Swamy waited patiently for 11 months, observed that ‘for good governance there must be some time-limit for granting sanctions, if not three-months. But 11 months is too long’.

Subramanium said in the present case the competent authority needed to wait as he wanted to act carefully by going through sufficient material.

However, the Bench observed that instead of waiting, the competent authority could have said that material supplied along with complaint was not sufficient.”

“The Bench was categorical that the competent authority in the case [Prime Minister] should have acted within three months of receiving the complaint of Swamy in accordance with guidelines laid down in the Vineet Narain judgment relating to the Hawala case… The judgment in the Vineet Narain case has fixed certain time-limit for grant of sanction by the competent authority. It is open to the sanctioning authority to refer (application) or consult the Attorney General," the newspaper quoted the SC bench.

"The three months time for grant of sanction laid by the Supreme Court is clear for fair and good governance," the Bench is reported to have told Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, who was appearing for the government.

"We find it is now more than 16 months. The sanctioning authority can say I am not inclined to give sanction. But we find the alleged inaction and silence troubling," the Bench observed, adding: "The sanctioning authority can say yes or no".

However, solicitor general Subramanium has said that this criticism of Singh should not be seen as an embarrassment, reported NDTV.

In a related development the SC also slammed the media for "misreporting" Gopal Subramanium’s alleged attempt to involve the CBI counsel and Raja’s lawyer TR Andhyarujina for discussion on the case strategy of the controversial matter.

Andhyarujina and Subramanium both denied the report as incorrect and the bench accepted the integrity of both lawyers. "I have shoulders broad enough to take it in my stride," commented Subramanium according to the Times of India, which stood by its original story.

Outlook India has published the full Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) complaint.

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