Former Telecom Secretary Dinesh Shankar Mathur, a key prosecution witness in the 2G spectrum allocation case, is likely to depose before a Delhi court on Monday.
Mr. Mathur’s deposition before Special CBI Judge O P Saini assumes significance as he, in his statement to the CBI, had said it was former Telecom Minister A Raja who had decided to prepone the cut-off date for the receipt of new applications for Unified Access Services Licences (UASL).
Earlier, October 1, 2007 was fixed as the last date for receiving applications, but it was preponed to September 25.
The CBI had alleged that Mr. Raja, in collusion with others, had decided to keep September 25, 2007 as the cut-off date for considering the applications for UASL to “wrongly benefit” Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra and Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka -- all facing trial in the case.
Mr. Mathur, a 1971 batch IAS officer who had joined as the telecom secretary in July 2006 and retired from the post on December 31, 2007, had said that Mr. Raja decided to prepone the cut-off date to be September 25, 2007 without having any “reasonable justification.”
“It was also decided by A Raja on this date that Letter of Intent (LoIs) may be issued to the applicants, who applied by September 25, 2007. When I came back from tour, this note of the minister was put to me on November 3, 2007.
“In my opinion, this could have given rise to legal implications because the department (DoT) did not have any reasonable justification for arbitrarily fixing the cut off date as September 25, 2007,” Mr. Mathur had told the CBI in his statement recorded on December 16, 2010.
The court, in its order on charges against Mr. Raja and others, had also said that the former telecom minister had decided the cut-off date to be October 1, 2007 and a press release was also issued to this effect on September 24, 2007 but he had already taken a view to keep it as September 25, 2007 to favour some private firms.
Mr. Mathur had also told the CBI that Mr. Raja, while corresponding with the Prime Minister on various vital issues related to the allocation of spectrum, had not consulted him.
“I state that the correspondence between the minister and Prime Minister was carried by Minister A Raja at his level and the draft reply to the Prime Minister was not prepared in consultation with the department on file.
“I was not even consulted in this regard even informally. Normally such communications from such high dignitaries on policy matters should be considered by the department in depth and a well thought-out reply should be sent under signatures of the minister,” Mr. Mathur had told the CBI.
He had also told the agency that a note prepared by him Manju Madhavan, then Member (Finance) and Telecom Commission, giving various options about fixing of the entry fee was forwarded to Raja, but no reply came from him and even the note did not appear in any policy file.
“l also state that Manju Madhavan, the then Member (Finance), Telecom Commission and myself had prepared a note giving various options about fixing of the entry fee, which included an option regarding the auction of the licenses as well.
“This note was initialled by Manju Madhvan and forwarded by me to A Raja in the last week of October, 2007. However, the said note never came back and does not appear to be a part of any policy file,” he had said.