New Delhi: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to direct probe into the role of then finance minister P. Chidambram in alleged illegalities committed by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in approving Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006 by permitting investment in excess of the 74 percent ceiling allowed in the telecom sector then.
Referring to the CAG report which has pointed to two alleged illegalities in the grant of approval to Aircel-Maxis deal by the FIPB, Swamy told a bench of Chief Justice H.L.Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra that a status report by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) dealing with the matter was pending consideration by the court.
Telling Swamy that it had yet to go through the report, the court said that it would take a call on his plea on the next hearing scheduled for September 23. According to Swamy, the Comptroller and Auditor General in a 2015 report has pointed to two illegalities in the grant of approval by the FIPB to the Aircel-Maxis deal involving Maxis acquiring 93.3 percent stakes in the Aircel Tele Ventures Ltd through its GCSHL.
This, he held, was in excess of the then ceiling of 74 percent investment by a foreign entity in an Indian telecom company. The Second illegality, Swamy said was that since the foreign investment in Aircel was more than Rs.600 crore, it should have gone to Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs for approval but it was instead cleared by the FIPB.
“We will go through the report”, the court said as Swamy told the court that nobody knows whether the status report, given in a sealed cover to the court last year, had recommended further investigation or closure. Swamy has alleged that the “quid prop quo” that CBI suspected in the Aircel-Maxis deal between the then communications minister Dayanidhi Maran and Malaysian company Maxis could as well extend to Chidamabaram.
C. Sivasankaran, the original owner of Aircel, had alleged that he was pressured by Maran to sell the company to Maxis owned by T. Ananda Krishnan. He had alleged to pressure him, Aircel was denied licences. The CBI has alleged quid pro quo saying that in return the Malaysian company invested Rs. 650 crores in Sun TV owned by Maran family.
Meanwhile, lawyer Prashant Bhushan sought the details of the progress made by the CBI into the alleged telephonic conversation between former Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi and a state government intelligence officer Jaffer Sait which alleges that a corporate house paid huge money to Karunanidhi and his family for the purchase of a prime land in Chennai. The matter will come up for further hearing on September 23.