‘Though some accused joined the conspiracy at various levels, their intent was common'
The special court hearing the 2G spectrum allocation case has reserved its order on framing of charges against the 17 accused for September 15, after the prosecution completed the rebuttal of defence arguments on Monday.
Rejecting the submissions of defence counsel that there was no conspiracy, Special Public Prosecutor U.U. Lalit said that though some of the accused joined the criminal conspiracy at different periods and at various levels, all that mattered in the eyes of the law was that their intent was common.
Mr. Lalit said there were two streams in the conspiracy — one that began in February-March 2007, when officials of the Reliance ADA Group, who set up Swan Telecom, applied for UAS licences to gain a foothold in GSM technology; and another stream, which began in May 2007, when A. Raja became the Telecom Minister.
Mr. Lalit said these two streams merged on October 19, 2007, when the process of offloading stake in Swan to Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka began. On October 18, 2007, Reliance Communications, until then a CDMA service provider, got in-principle approval for dual technology, rendering the Swan Telecom entity “useless” for them.
On the manifestations of the conspiracy in the latter stream, Mr. Lalit said the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) initiated a note that suggested October 10, 2007 as the cut-off date for accepting UAS licence applications, but Mr. Raja used his discretion, to first alter this to October 1, 2007.
In this regard, Mr. Lalit mentioned the information sought by Mr. Raja's private secretary R.K. Chandolia on September 24, 2007 on whether Unitech Wireless' applications were received.
Regarding the former Telecom Secretary, Siddhartha Behura's role, the public prosecutor said though he joined the DoT only on January 1, 2008, the manifestation of his role in the conspiracy was his note on January 9, 2008, “approving Swan's application despite serious differences within the DoT.”
While Mr. Lalit alleged that Unitech Wireless was ineligible for UAS licences, “having the same set of objections as some other companies which were rejected, we, however, are conscious that as far as Unitech Wireless is concerned, there is no quid pro quo or money trail”.
Regarding Swan, Mr. Lalit narrated the CBI's uncovering of monetary transactions that began from December 2008 from a DB Group company after Etisalat obtained stake in Swan. He said the gain obtained by Swan through offloading of stake to Etisalat was evident from the fact that “when incorporated, it was only a shell company, with no profile to boast, or past activities to justify securing of licence.”
On Mr. Raja and Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi's counsel's charge that sanction was not sought for prosecuting them, Mr. Lalit said Mr. Raja had demitted office as Minister and was at present only an MP, and hence no sanction was required to be taken. On Ms. Kanimozhi, he said she was charged with being a conspirator and not for an act she committed misusing her position as MP.
Defence counsel alleged on Monday that the CBI was suppressing a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India report it received on loss suffered by the government exchequer, and not submitting it in court. Mr. Lalit responded that he would enquire on this with CBI officials and present a written note to the court on Tuesday.