The Central Bureau of Investigation has intensified its probe into the 2G spectrum allocation during the National Democratic Alliance regime when late Pramod Mahajan was Telecom Minister and asked the Department of Telecom (DoT) to provide licence agreements with all telecom providers between 2001 and 2007.
The DoT, in response to CBI’s plea, provided the licence agreements that the department had with Bharti Telenet Limited for Delhi service, Aircel for Delhi and Mumbai.
However, files pertaining to the DoT’s agreement with Hutchison and Sterling Cellular (now know as Vodafone-Essar Mobile service), BPL and Idea could not be traced immediately and efforts were on to locate them, official sources said on Tuesday.
In a letter to the CBI’s Deputy Superintendent of Police R.A. Yadav, an under secretary in the DoT said “efforts are underway to locate the remaining licence agreements as requested and the same would be furnished shortly.”
After booking former Telecom Ministers A. Raja and Dayanidhi Maran in two separate cases, the CBI in November last year had registered a case against former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh, the then Deputy Director-General (Value Added Services) J.R. Gupta and two Telecom service providers Airtel and Vodafone for alleged irregularities in grant of additional spectrum.
In its FIR, the CBI had alleged there was a loss of Rs. 508 crore to the state exchequer during 2001-07.
“The then Minister for Telecom and Communication (Pramod Mahajan) has been excluded since he expired,” the CBI had said in a statement but accused him of being a part of criminal conspiracy to allocate the additional spectrum in a “hurried” manner.
The case against Mr. Ghosh, Mr. Gupta, Bharti Cellular (now known as Bharti Airtel), 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, according to CBI. Mr. Gupta retired as Director, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.
Both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have said they had always maintained the highest standard of corporate governance and regulatory compliance.
The CBI 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.
In the FIR, the CBI said a case has been registered against the then Telecom Secretary, the then DDG (VAS); three Private Cellular Companies, and others for alleged irregularities in the grant of additional 2G Spectrum and causing a Loss of Rs. 508 Crore approximately during the period 2001-2007.
It was alleged that the then Secretary (Telecom) and the then DDG (VAS), Department of Telecom, entered into a criminal conspiracy with three beneficiary private companies, based in Delhi and Mumbai, and abused their official positions as public servants.
“The public servants, with approval of the then Minister of Telecom (Communications and IT) (since expired), took an alleged hurried decision on 31.01.2002 to allocate additional spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz in violation of the report of a Technical Committee,” the agency alleged.