2G scam: wrap up probe into Aircel-Maxis deal, SC tells CBI

Amid the continuing imbroglio in India's telecom sector, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to get on with its probe into the Aircel-Maxis deal and submit a progress report in three months.

Among other angles, the CBI is also looking into the clearance given to the deal by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) allegedly in violation of then-existing foreign direct investment rules.

A two-judge bench of Justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan said the central investigation agency could not continue with its probe "indefinitely".

This was after CBI counsel K K Venugopal argued that the agency was awaiting a decision by the Malaysian government on sharing information on any criminal aspects of the deal.

"This can't be indefinite. What happens if they (Malaysia) say no?" Justice Singhvi asked. "If they say no, we will decide on the basis of existing material whether a prima facie case exists."

The agency told the court that the process of taking action under the Foreign Exchange Maintenance Act (FEMA) and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in relation to the 2G spectrum case was also at an advanced stage.

The apex court also asked the Enforcement Directorate to try and finish the probe into the money-laundering aspect of the 2G scam as soon as possible.

The court clarified that it was only monitoring the progress of the investigations and not the trial.

"Once a chargesheet is filed, the role of this court in monitoring ends," Justice Singhvi, heading the bench, said.

There were still some loose ends in the investigation and this court was dealing with these, he added.

According to Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy, a key petitioner in the 2G case, former telecom minister D Maran arm-twisted C Sivasakaran, the Chennai-based promoter of Aircel, to sell the licence and spectrum to Maxis, owned by Malaysian Anand Krishnan.

Subramanian Swamy also alleges that finance minister P Chidambaram prompted the FIPB to clear the deal.