India’s Supreme Court has been on collision course with the country’s top politicians and powerful bureaucrats. The court is furious at federal Human Resources Minister Kapil Cibal, who is also managing the Telecommunications Ministry, for trying to downplay what is said to be the biggest fraud since India achieved independence in 1947. Minister Cibal criticized the statutory and independent auditing body, the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) for concluding that the nation might have lost $39 billion in revenue as a result of irregularities in awarding 2G spectrum licenses in 2008. He countered that the government did not lose a single rupee in awarding these licenses, adding that there was no ground for alleging that the nation had lost billions.
Indian left parties asked the minister why the previous minister resigned from his job if there was no fraud. The Supreme Court took a serious note of ministers’ comments and told the government counsel that the minister’s comments were unfortunate adding that the ministers had certain statutory responsibilities of respecting statutory bodies. It wondered how the minister could find wrong with the CAG’s report when it is based on government sources. The court observed the minister’s comments should not influence the investigation process looking in the matter. The CAG also responded to the minister’s comments saying that it was committed to its report.
The Supreme Court is also hearing another politically sensitive issue of similar nature. The former justice minister and a renowned lawyer Mr Jethmalani appealed the apex court to order the government for initiating steps to bring back billions of dollars of Indian money hidden in offshore accounts of tax havens by the rich Indian politicians, bureaucrats and corporate owners. The Supreme Court yesterday said that the issue was not a routine one but about a big plunder of nation’s money. The court has asked the government to reveal the names of the people who hid the nation’s money illegally to escape from paying taxes. The court is worried that the black money was the source of financing terror groups operating against India.