A CBI team has moved an official note seeking to close its probe into the Rs 1,700-crore advance given by Tata Realty to Unitech Ltd, a company chargesheeted in the 2G scam, saying it was following in “letter and spirit” a Supreme Court order that directed former agency chief Ranjit Sinha “not to interfere” in the investigation and trial of the spectrum cases.
The investigation into the Tata Realty-Unitech Ltd angle in the 2G case was initiated last July by Sinha, who subsequently recused himself from the investigation following the apex court order on November 20, before retiring from service on December 8.
According to CBI documents accessed by The Sunday Express, a note was moved on December 23 by Vivek Priyadarshi, an investigating officer in the agency’s 2G probe team, which quoted the Supreme Court order and said the investigation was initiated on the “basis of the direction of Ranjit Sinha, former DGCBI”. It concluded by saying that “in the letter and spirit of the SC order no further probe in this case is called for”.
Apart from Priyadarshi, the probe team headed by R K Dutta also includes Joint Director Ashok Tiwari and DIG Santosh Rastogi. According to the documents, Rastogi agreed with the views of his junior officer but Tiwari did not, and the file with the note was subsequently marked by Dutta to Ranjit Sinha’s successor Anil Sinha for a final opinion.
The CBI probe initiated by Ranjit Sinha had focused on the land deal between Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited (TRIL) and Unitech Ltd after the latter had obtained 2G spectrum licences in 2007.
In August 2014, in a sealed report to the Supreme Court, the CBI had raised questions about the deal, and cast doubts on the authenticity of the minutes of board meetings of two Tata companies that decided to provide an advance to Unitech, calling them “fabricated and antedated”.
The CBI report had said, “It is clear that TTSL (Tata Teleservices Ltd) was not eligible for dual technology and the Unitech acted as a front for TTSL but once TTSL was given dual technology permission, TTSL and Unitech decided to terminate the arrangement. In this way they also made an attempt to cheat the DOT (Department of Telecom).”
The CBI had further said, “It is clear that TRIL and Tata Sons Limited both fabricated and antedated the minutes book to mislead the investigation undertaken by the CBI and to establish the bonafide nature of the advance of Rs 1700 crore made to Unitech ltd, when in fact the transaction was a sham transaction. More importantly, Rs 1700 crore was advanced without any due diligence… this further proves that the transaction was a bogus transaction, this amounts to fabricating evidence and also forgery.”
When contacted by The Indian Express, former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha refused to comment.
A CBI spokesperson said, “This is a court-monitored matter. Whatever submissions are required will be made before the competent court.”
In an elaborate response, a spokesperson for Tata Sons denied the specific allegation regarding “fabricated and antedated” minutes of board meetings.
The spokesperson said, “We have clarified in the past and reiterate that Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited (TRIL) and Unitech entered into a bona fide real estate deal that had no relation to the 2G licences. The transaction between Unitech and TRIL has been fully explained to all the regulatory agencies. TRIL reiterates that it has comprehensively addressed questions from all Government agencies and fully cooperated with all authorities in their investigations. TRIL stresses that it is committed to the highest standards of ethics and business conduct. On the subject matter of your specific communication, the CBI has not raised any such queries with us. We specifically deny the allegations mentioned in your query about ‘fabricated and antedated minutes’.”
In its report to the Supreme Court last year, the CBI had referred specifically to the minutes of the board meetings. “It… appears that both the minutes of meeting are contrary to each other, as the minutes of TIL (Tata Sons Limited) says that the proposal has been received by TRIL and the minutes of TRIL says that the proposal has been received by TIL,” the agency had said.
The CBI had further said, “The other issue which puts a grave doubt on the minutes of TRIL dated 4.10.2007 is the fact that the minutes dated 10.7.2007 were the minutes preceding the minutes dated 4.10.2007. Normally in all the minutes contained in the minute book of TRIL, the minutes of the previous meeting are confirmed. The same can be seen the minutes of the meeting of TRIL held on 10.7.2007… Further suspicion is raised by the fact that the minutes of 10.7.2007 are confirmed in the minutes of meeting held on 5.10.2007…As such it is clear that the minutes dated 4.10.2007 are fabricated minutes as they do not tally with the minutes of meeting of Tata Sons Limited and rest of the board minutes of TRIL as contained in the minutes book.”