THE BUCK HAS DEFINITIVELY stopped at the table of the very highest in the land. On 16 November, the Supreme Court was irked into asking why ‘the sanctioning authority,’ the prime minister, had remained (rather eerily) uncommunicative for 15 months to a request by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy for the prime minister’s sanction to prosecute Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Andimuthu Raja in the 2G spectrum scam, whose magnitude has left the polity stunned. Raja is accused of presiding over the country’s biggest-ever scandal, possibly running into 1.7 trillion rupees (roughly 37 billion dollars at the current exchange rate)—that of selling off for a song the scarce electromagnetic spectrum used for mobile telecommunications to a select group of companies. Raja had filibustered about putting in his resignation before crumbling barely 48 hours before the Supreme Court’s admonition to the prime minister.
A meticulously-researched report tabled in Parliament on 16 November by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) held Raja directly responsible for deliberately undervaluing spectrum and manipulating the process through which a clutch of telecom companies was granted licences on a controversial first-come, first-served basis. CAG confirmed what the media had been reporting for more than three years and more than a year after the Central Bureau of Investigation lodged a first information report against Department of Telecommunications (DoT) officials and others, including politicians and representatives of privately-owned firms.
On the very day of the Supreme Court’s reproof and the tabling of the CAG report, the prime minister stated fulsomely in a speech to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the office of the CAG that its reports were taken “very seriously” not just by the media but also by the public, by the government and by Parliament: