Hours after a special court discharged former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms in the 2002 additional spectrum allocation case saying the chargesheet was full of distorted and fabricated facts, a war of words broke out between the government and the Congress with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and former Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal crossing swords.
Jaitley fired the first salvo saying while “officers are guilty of fabricating charges against an honest civil servant and others….there is no doubt that the chargesheet was filed at the behest of Kapil Sibal, the Telecom Minister in the UPA government.”
Sibal hit back, telling Jaitley to focus on his job as Finance Minister and asked him “not to attribute his experience and his guiding the CBI in matters to others”.
“It is not necessary that what he does is also being done by others,” Sibal told The Indian Express.
Jaitley posted his comment on the judgment on his Facebook page: “Indeed the officers are guilty of fabricating charges against an honest civil servant and others. There is no doubt that the chargesheet was filed at the behest of Kapil Sibal, the Telecom Minister in the UPA government. At the time when the Telecom sector was riddled with scams, Kapil Sibal selected a retired judge of his choice and asked him to unearth an “NDA Scam” in Telecom.”
“The judge opined that there could be an arbitrariness in fixing the spectrum user charges for allocation of additional spectrum. An unsustainable chargesheet was filed against an outstanding and honest civil servant Shyamal Ghosh. The idea to attack the NDA was by including the Late Pramod Mahajan in Column II as a deceased accused,” he said.
Jaitley said he had “consistently maintained that this chargesheet was full of fabricated facts.”
“The court has vindicated what we had always maintained. The CBI officers who acted on the dictates of the political government will now face an inquiry. But what about the Ministers who conspired to create a fabricated chargesheet and a retired judge who, for the sake of a post-retirement assignment, agreed to lend his offices for the same?” he asked.
Rebutting Jaitley’s charges, Sibal said: “I would like to tell Mr Jaitley that please concentrate a little more on the Finance Ministry. Check the rising prices of dal which is now far beyond the reach of the ordinary man. Take care of the economy which is in a shambles and spend less time on blogs. Focus on the Bank of Baroda scam in which Rs 6,000 crore has gone out of the country. It happened immediately after the elections. Why did the Finance Ministry not act for one month (after the BoB internal audit report) and started acting after the Congress party held a press conference?”
On Jaitley’s allegations, he said “I don’t know what is Jaitley’s experience with the CBI… But I can say that I never had any conversation with the CBI with regard to the chargesheet nor did I know about it till it came out in the news what it was filed. I would expect the Finance Minister of the country to be more responsible” and argued he “not have merely given flight to his imagination.”
Sibal said he had set up the panel headed by Justice Shivaraj Patil to conduct an inquiry but “never spoke to even Patil” on the course of the investigation. “My request to Mr Jaitley is that concentrate more on his ministry and less on politics. Yesterday, Jaitley called the writers’ protest a manufactured paper rebellion. The comment of his today is also manufactured. My request to him is he should not attribute to attribute his experience and his guiding the CBI in matters to others. It is not necessary that what he does is also being done by others,” he said.