Interview: Subramanian Swamy

'A case of internal sabotage'

Print edition : January 19, 2018

Subramanian Swamy. Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Interview with Subramanian Swamy.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy was the first one to allege corruption in the allocation of 2G spectrum. He took the matter to the Supreme Court, which, in 2012, quashed the allocation of licences, directed the auctioning of spectrum and ordered trial of the accused. Excerpts from an interview he gave Frontline:

Why have you taken the Modi government to task for this judgment?

The BJP was nowhere in the picture when I approached the Supreme Court in 2008 for quashing the licences and ordering an investigation. It was on my petition that the Supreme Court gave the historic judgment quashing all licences, ordering auction of spectrum and a proper investigation by the CBI. If the judge has said that the prosecution failed to produce any evidence then it reflects poorly on the government. The law officers did not do their job properly.

So, the CBI did not take this high-profile case seriously?

I am not commenting on the CBI Director, he is a fine officer, a man of integrity, but the junior officers definitely did not take their job seriously. I can say with responsibility that the junior officers in the CBI actively worked to provide relief to the accused.

At whose behest?

Obviously those in the BJP itself. There are people, I will not name them at this point, but I know for a fact that they helped the accused. This is a case of internal sabotage. Take the AG [Attorney General], Mukul Rohatgi, for example. His appointment was wrong in the first place because he had represented some of the accused. I had written letters to Modi at the time of his appointment. Rohatgi handled the case for three years and botched it up. Even the Special CBI Court judge has said that after some time the prosecution seemed to have lost interest in the case.

But this was a politically sensitive case, on which Prime Minister Modi had based his entire Lok Sabha campaign. Do you think anybody could afford to mess it up deliberately and get away with it?

They have done that. They never thought the government would appeal. But they will not get away with it. This is a case based on rock-hard evidence, which the CBI judge deliberately ignored.

But the judge said there was “nil evidence” of any criminality in either allocation of spectrum or in advancing the cut-off date or in fixing the price. What rock-hard evidence are you talking about?

There are [several pieces of] rock-hard evidence of criminality. One, the spectrum was allotted at the 2001 price which was one-tenth the prevailing price then. It is also a fact that some of the allottees sold their spectrum either partially or fully at eight times higher prices to foreign companies like Systema, DoCoMo, Telenor, etc., immediately after getting it, though there was a two-year time bar for them. This resulted in huge profits for them without working for it even for a single day.

Second, the first come, first served policy had been declared a “bad policy” by the Delhi High Court in 2008 when some parties that had been denied spectrum approached it for relief. One of them was Aircel owner [C.] Sivasankaran. The Delhi High Court had then quashed the policy. Although Sivasankaran later withdrew his appeal, the judgment remains unaltered even today. The CBI judge made a grave mistake by ignoring this judgment.

Third, the Supreme Court judgment of 2012, which came after I filed a petition and which remains valid even today, was also ignored by the CBI judge.

Is this a setback for the government, especially Prime Minister Modi, who made this the theme of his Lok Sabha campaign?

It is potentially a big setback for Modi. But not for long because it is bound to be dumped by the higher courts.

If you look at the collection after the auction, it was only Rs.30,964 crore, nowhere near the “presumptive loss” of Rs.1.76 lakh crore as announced by the then CAG Vinod Rai.

I don’t care what Vinod Rai has said. When I filed the complaint, Rai was nowhere in the picture. All I am saying is that a massive corruption had occurred in allotting spectrum and that should be fairly investigated and the guilty should be punished.

Do collections for 3G and 4G spectrum corroborate the charge of corruption in 2G spectrum?

I don’t care about 3G or 4G collections. What I have said is based on rock-hard evidence and that is why I call this a bogus judgment.