The CBI has set up a team to look into any setback to the 2G trial because of the episode, following allegations that Singh could have tried to help Chandra. The CD was aired by news channel CNN-IBN.
“We have registered a preliminary enquiry and cannot rule out corporate espionage. The conversation appears to have been recorded in September-October last year. The fact that it was aired just before the JPC meeting and coming Parliament session cannot be ignored,” a top CBI official said.
The agency also defended its prosecutor, saying there was no forensic evidence yet to condemn him. “It is wrong to say that the investigations and trial in 2G case have been compromised. Singh has been associated with several important CBI cases in the past and we have to wait for forensic evidence before taking any action against him. He is not the chief public prosecutor in 2G. He is one of the assisting public prosecutors to U U Lalit, who has been appointed by the court as the special public prosecutor,” said an officer.
The agency will be sending the voice samples of Singh and Chandra for forensic examination. Under the CrPC, a person’s consent is required before taking samples of his voice.
“We have to wait till the CD’s genuineness is proved. Once we find prima facie evidence, we will move to the court to seek permission for voice samples,” the officer said.
He also added that the CBI cannot comment on the authenticity of the tape. “It is not clear whether someone has illegally taped the phone or recorded the conversation with a sophisticated device.”
Giving out the sequence of events that led to the removal of the public prosecutor, the top official said, “The CBI received a CD containing the conversation between two persons from a source 10 days back. After initial probe, we registered a PE and removed Singh from the 2G case.” The CBI refused to reveal the identity of the source.
This was also confirmed by JPC chairman P C Chacko, who said that CBI Director Ranjit Sinha had informed the panel members that the tape was received by a DIG of the CBI from “a source” 10 days ago. The DIG in turn had handed it over to the director. Sinha appeared before the JPC Tuesday and was examined by JPC members.
Responding to a pointed query on whether the tapping was the result of an operation by the counter-intelligence wing of the CBI or someone else, Chacko said he could say from what transpired at the meeting that it was not the work of “a government agency”.
Sinha is learnt to have also told the JPC that prima-facie the voices on the tape were those of Chandra and A K Singh.
DMK wants Raja called to JPC
As JPC chairman P C Chacko sought to conclude the process of examining witnesses Tuesday, DMK members T R Baalu and Tiruchi Siva made a forceful plea for summoning former minister and their party colleague A Raja as a witness. Sources disclosed that DMK members also demanded that Shahid Balwa of Swan Telecom be called. Chacko told the media that he would be considering the matter as well as consulting other members of the committee informally.
The JPC chief added that experience had shown that calling a person who is an accused in a court case serves no purpose because he cannot make any fresh revelations before the committee. He added that should Raja be called, he would be the last witness. However, if one former minister is called, it would have implications vis-a-vis other former ministers too.