Putting the entire blame on the Union cabinet and the then Telecom Minister A. Raja for the multi-crore rupee 2G scam, former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura on Wednesday told a Delhi court that he cannot be held responsible for implementing the government policy.
Mr. Behura, one of the accused in 2G spectrum scam, told the Special CBI court that it was Mr. Raja who “illegally” changed the policy which was not objected to by the cabinet and he continued to “retain the confidence of the Prime Minister and others.”
“The Prime Minister was in the picture, Ministry of Finance and Law Ministry were in the picture over the telecom policy and he was not a lone ranger,” senior advocate Aman Lekhi, appearing for Mr. Behura, said while pressing for bail.
“If others in the government or the cabinet are not held responsible, how can a civil servant be made an accused? Raja continued in the cabinet, which shows he retained the confidence of the Prime Minister and others,” he argued.
He further said the loss accrued to the public exchequer was because of the wrong policy followed by the government during the tenure of A. Raja.
“If there had been any disagreement, it should have been brought before the cabinet headed by the Prime Minister. If the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and the Law Minister did not think it appropriate to deal with it at the cabinet, how can he, a civil servant, be liable for doing his duty“? Mr. Behura’s counsel Aman Lekhi said.
Mr. Lekhi also told the court that Mr. Behura was appointed Telecom Secretary after the decision on the policy pertaining to spectrum allocation had already been taken and said his predecessor A.K. Srivastava should be held responsible for “defending the policy.”
“It is a paradox of this case that Srivastava, who should be made accused, has been made a star witness,” he said.
He also accused Mr. Raja of making changes in the opinion given by the then Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati.
“Raja interfered, cut the note, marked it as approved as amended. This shows Behura was not aware of the intent of others. On what basis is a conspiracy between Raja and him proved when there is a disagreement?” Mr. Lekhi said.
“If he (Mr. Vahanvati) is not made an accused for giving an opinion on facts and rightly so, then how can he be a criminal for endorsing that opinion“? he said.
Mr. Behura is alleged to have conspired with Raja, who “dishonestly” deleted the last paragraph of the approved press release shown to Mr. Vahanvati, which read that if more than one applicant complies with the Letter of Intent condition on the same date, the inter-se seniority would be decided by the date of application.