The unexpected arrest of the former minister and two officials in the 2G scam has caught many by surprise, but for the original 2G scam petitioners in the Supreme Court, the move smacks of political maneuvering under increasing legal, political and public pressure.
“I don’t know how serious the investigation is,” said Prashant Bhushan, counsel for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), which along with Janatha Party president Subramanian Swamy filed cases for the cancellation of 2G licenses allotted by Raja in 2008.
The two cases have been instrumental in heightening pressure on the government to take action against the DMK minister, widely suspected to have swindled the nation of tens of thousands of crores of rupees by rigging a telecom license allocation process. The opposition too has been increasing pressure on the government demanding a parliamentary enquiry into the matter and threatening to disrupt the upcoming budget session.
Two weeks after telecom minister Kapil Sibal publicly defended allotment of discounted licenses and spectrum, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday scooped down on the DMK leader and two former officials of the Department of Telecom on charges of criminal conspiracy and suspected corruption.
“I don’t see any harm in a JPC [Joint Parliamentary Committee] enquiry because it could well be that the arrests are being carried out to make a show that they are doing a serious investigation,” added Bhushan, one of the most respected Supreme Court lawyers and someone known for taking on the high and mighty through the judiciary.
Both the CPIL and Swamy had filed their cases seeking cancellation of the 100-plus licenses in early 2010 with the Delhi High Court, but had to approach the Supreme Court after a few months when the High Court turned down their pleas. Swamy had kept up a relentless barrage of letters addressed to the Prime Minister protesting what he saw as gross irregularities in the allotment in late 2007 and early 2008.
Both Bhushan and Swamy said they wanted the “whole truth” to come out and the Court-monitored investigations to continue at full speed. “All those who helped him and all those who took his help must be brought to book,” Swamy said, “We cannot remove corruption in India unless you create a disincentive that no matter how big you are, the law is above you.”