Nearly 10 months after registering a case, the CBI has asked Department of Telecom (DoT) to provide certified copies of records and files pertaining to licences issued to Bharti and Sterling and Hutchison for increasing spectrum band width.
Superintendent of Police of CBI has sent a letter to DOT seeking certified copies of licenses, amendments issued by wireless planning and coordination wing of the ministry and subsequent additional spectrum issued to them.
The seeking of certified copies indicated that the CBI will soon file a charge sheet in the case.
They said documents related to additional spectrum allocation to three companies -- beyond 4.4 MHz upto 6.2 MHz, beyond 6.2 MHz up to 8 MHz, and beyond 8MHz up to 10 MHz -- should be provided to the agency “urgently“.
The agency sought documents related to licenses for this additional spectrum for Delhi and Mumbai circles of Airtel, Sterling Cellular for Delhi circle and Hutchison Max Pvt Limited for Mumbai circle, they said.
The Telecom department has communicated to CBI that no wireless operating licenses was issued to Bharti Airtel for Mumbai service area, they said.
The agency is giving final touches to its charge sheet in connection with spectrum allocation done during the tenure of NDA government in which it is likely to name the three companies along with then officials of Telecom Department for allegedly entering in criminal conspiracy to get the spectrum in violation of norms.
CBI had registered a case against Shyamal Ghosh, the then Secretary in the Telecom Ministry headed by late Pramod Mahajan, J R Gupta, who was the Deputy Director General (Value Added Services) and two Telecom service providers Airtel and Vodafone for alleged irregularities in grant of additional spectrum.
The CBI had alleged in its FIR that Department of Telecom had increased the base spectrum for telecom companies from 4.4 MhZ to 6.2 MhZ during Mahajan’s tenure from 2001 to 2003 and also allocated extra spectrum on subscriber-based criteria.
The case against the then DoT official, Bharti Cellular (now known as Bharti Airtel), and Hutchinson Max and Sterling Cellular (now known as Vodafone Essar) was registered under 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and various sections of Prevention of Corruption Act, the CBI alleged. Gupta retired as Director, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.
“The then Minister for Telecom and Communication (Pramod Mahajan) has been excluded since he expired,” the CBI had said in a statement but alleged that he was a part of criminal conspiracy to allocate the additional spectrum in a “hurried” manner.
BJP leader Mahajan was the Telecom Minister during 2001-03.
Both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone had, however, denied the allegation saying they had always maintained the highest standard of corporate governance and regulatory compliance.
Bharti Airtel had said they would be providing all details and correspondence to the authorities. Vodafone had said all their documents related to the spectrum allocation were in compliance with the governing laws and regulations and it was cooperating with the agency officials.