The CBI on Friday filed another charge sheet in the spectrum allocation scandal, alleging a criminal conspiracy dating to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance rule, which has caused the Indian Government a loss to the tune of Rs. 846.44 crore. The alleged conspirators are the then Telecom Minister Pramod Mahajan, then Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh, and telecom majors Bharti Cellular Limited (now known as Bharti Airtel Limited), Hutchison Max Private Limited Mumbai (now known as Vodafone India), and Sterling Cellular Limited (now known as Vodafone Mobile Services Limited).
However, Mr. Mahajan, who passed away in 2006, wasn’t chargesheeted. The CBI alleged that Mr. Shyamal Ghosh misused his official position as a public servant and showed undue favour, which caused a loss of Rs. 846.44 crore to the Government exchequer, and corresponding undue profit to the three accused companies, and “incidental” profit to some telecom companies which weren’t a part of the conspiracy. The agency said the loss was caused by charging only one per cent of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) additionally, instead of charging the required additional two per cent of AGR for allocation of additional spectrum from 6.2 MHz up to 10 MHz.
The AGR is used to calculate the share from a telecom operator’s revenues earned annually, to be paid to the Indian Government.
The CBI alleged that the decision to allocate additional spectrum was taken by Mr. Mahajan and Mr. Shyamal Ghosh on January 31, 2002, in “undue haste”, before the joint report, regarding congestion/service quality in the network area of the telecom operators, could be received by the Telecom Department (DoT), and could be submitted. The assessment was carried out between January 17 and 23, 2002, and the report submitted on February 1, 2002.