Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has handed over 15 files sought by the CBI in connection with its probe into increase of spectrum bandwidth for Airtel and Vodafone between 2001 and 2003 during when NDA was in power.
The agency, which is likely to file a charge sheet in the case in the first week of October, had sought certified copies of the files pertaining to increase of spectrum beyond 4.4 MHz upto 6.2 MHz, beyond 6.2 MHz up to 8 MHz, and beyond 8MHz up to 10 MHz to these companies when late Pramod Mahajan was the telecom minister, official sources said on Monday.
The CBI had registered a case against the then Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh and Deputy Director General (Value Added Services) J R Gupta and unknown officials of Bharti Cellular (now known as Bharti Airtel), and Hutchinson Max and Sterling Cellular (now known as Vodafone Essar) last November.
Both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have, however, denied the allegation levelled against them saying they had always maintained the highest standards of corporate governance and regulatory compliance.
A letter from Assistant Wireless Advisor M K Patnaik to CBI’s Deputy Superintendent of Police R A Yadav listed all the 15 files pertaining to the decision of increasing the spectrum bandwidth of the two telecom operators, the sources said.
CBI has sought certified copies of licenses, amendments issued by wireless planning and coordination wing of the ministry and subsequent additional spectrum issued to them.
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 Telecom department has communicated to CBI that no wireless operating licenses were 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 companies along with then officials of Telecom Department for allegedly entering into a criminal conspiracy to get the spectrum in violation of norms, the sources said.
CBI had registered a case against Mr. Ghosh, Mr. Gupta 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. Mr. 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.