Former senior DoT official A.K. Srivastava on Tuesday testified before a Delhi court hearing the 2G case that being the then telecom minister, A Raja was the “final authority” to take decisions on the policy matters.
Mr. Srivastava, who retired as deputy director general (DDG) (Access Service) from the Department of Telecom (DoT), deposed as a prosecution witness and said all the files were submitted to Raja, key accused in the case, through proper channel for final decisions on various proposals.
“The cabinet minister is the final authority in DoT for approval of policy matters of Access Service (AS) cell. The proposals are normally initiated by the section, that is, section officer level, ADG level and director level.
“The file is then seen by DDG and thereafter, is submitted for decision through proper channel, that is, through Member (Technology) and Secretary (DoT), to Minister of Communication and Information Technology (MOC&IT),” Srivastava told Special CBI Judge O P Saini.
Srivastava, whose statement remained inconclusive today and would continue tomorrow, identified Raja, his writing and signatures on some of the documents shown to him by the CBI prosecutor in the court.
He also said when he re—joined the department as DDG (AS) on May 31, 2007 after coming back from deputation, the main policy change which he noticed was the migration of basic and cellular operators.
“The main policy change which I noted was the migration of basic and cellular operators to unified access service (UAS) regime and grant of UAS Licences as per guidelines of December 14, 2005.
“Before that, the guidelines applicable were of November 11, 2003 and before this period, the licences of access services were in two separate streams, that is, basic service and cellular mobile telephone service,” he said.
Mr. Srivastava said the issues pending in the AS section as on May 31, 2007 were mainly related to the grant of licences on the Unified Access Service Licences (UASL) applications for which recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had already been sought on April 13, 2007 and it was awaited.
“UAS licence means Unified Access Service licence. These licences are permitted to operate both wireline and wireless services. It is granted to the registered Indian companies on making of an application as per DoT guidelines dated December 14, 2005, which are the extant guidelines,” he said.
Mr. Srivastava said while processing the TRAI recommendations, the views of the DoT’s concerned sections are sought.
“... if required, a committee is also constituted to examine certain issues and recommendations of the committee/ views of the department are put up in the file with the approval of Member (Technology) to Telecom Commission for consideration.
“Telecom Commission would give its own decision and the same would be put up to the minister incharge of the department for approval of government. After approval by the minister, the same becomes the policy of the government and is implemented by the department,” he said.
Mr. Srivastava’s testimony assumes significance as he, in his statement to the CBI earlier, had said that Raja had noted in a DoT file that the cut—off date for receiving applications for grant of the 2G spectrum licences would be October 1, 2007.
The CBI, in its charge sheet, had alleged that in pursuance of a conspiracy to favour some telecom companies, Mr. Raja had decided to accept the applications filed with DoT till September 25 only.
The agency had also alleged that Raja wanted to favour firms, Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd and Swan Telecom and to extend the favour, he had unilaterally advanced the cut—off date for accepting the applications.