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Updated: November 26, 2012 01:54 IST

In R.P. Singh’s 2G sums, an echo of Raja

Shalini Singh
Comment (18)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
A. Raja and R.P. Singh. File photos
A. Raja and R.P. Singh. File photos

“Revenues from the 3G auction cannot be used as a reference for 2G”

A review of the statements made by former auditor-turned-critic R.P. Singh on the extent of losses from the 2010 sale of 2G spectrum reveals striking similarities with what A. Raja — the former Telecom Minister now facing trial on charges of corruption for his role in the 2G scam — has been saying to support his view that the CAG estimate of losses was inflated.

In his internal letter of May 31, 2010, recent television interviews as well as in a November 14, 2011 deposition before the Joint Parliamentary Committee, Mr. Singh has used many of Mr. Raja’s assertions, such as arguing that 2G spectrum is not comparable with 3G and therefore the 3G auction price cannot be used as a reference for 2G. Further, that the Swan and Unitech transactions were mere equity infusions under the FDI rules, had Finance Ministry approval and therefore did not result in any gains for the promoters or corresponding loss for the government. All of these arguments made by Mr. Raja have been rejected by the Supreme Court in its two orders of December 2010, first placing the CBI’s 2G investigation under its supervision and later cancelling 122 2G licences in February this year.

Mr. Singh has stated that he omitted the loss figures of Rs. 65,275 crore (based on the S Tel offer to buy spectrum at a higher price) as the offer had been withdrawn in the High Court and Rs. 1,02,497 crore (based on the comparison of 2G with 3G auctions) from a report submitted by field officers of his department, since in his view, as he wrote in his May 31, 2010 letter to the Director General (RC), CAG, that “Charging for 2G spectrum for rollout was never recommended by TRAI or the government never contemplated any charges for spectrum other than entry fee.”

This is exactly what Mr. Raja told the Prime Minister vide his letter No. 20-100/2007-AS.I of November 2, 2007, while refusing to either auction or index the spectrum pricing in spite of the PM’s letter of the same day, advising him to consider this. Mr. Raja said in section 3 of his letter, “The issue of auction of spectrum was considered by TRAI and the Telecom Commission and was not recommended.”

Earlier the same day, Mr. Raja had told the PM in another letter, “Now the department has decided to continue with the existing policy of first-come-first-served for processing applications received up to 25 September 2007.” These were his official refusal to auction spectrum citing both TRAI and DoT.

Later, as a defendant, Mr. Raja placed the same argument in the DoT’s counter affidavit in the SC dated November 11, 2010 in SLP No. 24873 of 2010 — 5 days before the CAG report — wherein the arguments that Mr. Singh used in his internal notes and more recently on his TV appearances were presented in paragraphs 74-77.

Mr. Singh has been using Mr. Raja’s arguments to attack the Rs. 1.76 lakh crore loss figure. While admitting to the JPC that he was no expert on telecoms, neither an engineer by training, Mr. Singh went on to give a detailed distinction between 2G and 3G spectrum to Rajya Sabha TV on Friday, which bears striking similarity to paragraphs 74-75 of Mr. Raja’s and the DoT’s defence in the Apex Court.

A year ago, while opposing the S Tel-related loss figure of Rs. 65,725 crore before the JPC, Mr. Singh repeated the same arguments made by Mr. Raja in the November 2010 affidavit. To the JPC, he cited the DoT reply to the CAG’s audit enquiry to support his view.

So much so, that even the mistakes in Mr. Singh’s testimony about the S Tel offer having been withdrawn in the High Court rather than the Supreme Court is bodily lifted from Mr. Raja’s defence in court.

Finally, Mr. Raja’s rejection of loss figures attributed to the Swan and Unitech transactions has also been repeated by Mr. Singh in the JPC and TV interviews by literally paraphrasing Mr. Raja’s press release of November 7, 2008 and paras 65-73 of the DoT’s November 10, 2010 affidavit in the SC. In effect, Mr. Singh’s opposition to the CAG’s loss figures uses the defence of the very Minister and department that he was required to audit.

How naive can be the Indian public? Some companies get licenses for a pittance(~2K crore approx) and sell a small margin of them to other companies for 10 times THAT value and they in turn sell a small margin of those again 10 times in value. How is this not corruption?

from:  Abhishek D
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 12:07 IST

Great article...I wish we have more journalists like Shalini Singh in our country...She is doing a great service to the nation by exposing Mr RP Singh.

from:  Pra
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 11:39 IST

Thankyou Ms Singh and The Hindu for the indepth analysis of the ex-CAGs statements , to bring before the Indian public certain facts like : a)"even the mistakes in Mr. Singh’s testimony about the S Tel offer having been withdrawn in the High Court rather than the Supreme Court is bodily lifted from Mr. Raja’s defence in court.b)"In effect, Mr. Singh’s opposition to the CAG’s loss figures uses the defence of the very Minister and department that he was required to audit.".
As long as we have such journalists and media, the UPA cannot get away with creations of its "dirty tricks" department.

Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 10:27 IST

Ms Singh we read your reports to know truth and not to know whether what
RP Singh says is similar to what Raja says. Is it your case that
whatever Raja has said in his defense should be compulsorily
disbelieved? You seem to have judged him guilty before the courts. The
moment Vinod Rai quoted some astronomical figure along with opposition
parties, Kejriwal and you media people went overboard. Accept it

from:  Baikadi Suryanarayana Rao
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 09:43 IST

It is yet another negative article by Shalini Singh on 2G; As a reader of 'The Hindu' since my school days for the past 40 years, it is better that 'The Hindu' does not carry such articles; you must first publish the news in detail; then, you carry the personal opinion of Shalini Singh; without publishing the original news in detail, carrying such biased views is not certainly the standard of 'The hindu'; 'The Hindu' was not honest enough to publish the severe strictures of Supreme Court on one such article of Shalini Singh when Presidential reference was about to be made on 2G; perhaps, that was the first occasion I came across when 'The Hindu' was criticsed by SC; nowadays, I am seeing more such articles based on personal philosophy of several new columnists in the 'The Hindu', which is not good for its standard; 'The Hindu' must focus more on giving real news items instead of publishing these kinds of biased articles based on personal opinion of the author.

from:  S. Anbalagan
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 08:31 IST

Ms Singh: Would you permit me to express my admiration for your
consistently brilliant analysis. Hope other journalists in India are
inspired by your dedication and service to the nation. India
desperately needs "Bob Woodward and Carl Bernsteinan" (of Watergate
fame) style of investigative journalists to save the country. Maybe the politicians’ policy of “loot the nation and fool the people” will come to an end, if the citizens open their eyes to how their country is being destroyed and the future of their children/grandchildren ruined, in their name and with their authority (vote).

from:  D Mahapatra
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 08:23 IST

What a review! Wish there were more newspapers like The Hindu. This is exactly the kind of one of many purposes any newspaper should serve.

from:  Adithya K
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 08:09 IST

feel like govt trying to save some of their bigwiz on the other
hand reliance audit controvery another scamm will be nullified if
cag will be disgrace

from:  mohit
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 07:48 IST

It is unfortunate in india, and very disgusting to see that we are
arguing in multi-crore losses and taking pride in exposing it instead of
punishing the people and recover the losses.This government is the most
corrupt we as citizens of India have seen

from:  Naresh
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 07:06 IST

Excellent Research Shalini! you never fail to deliver.
Striking similarities is more than an coincidence, in my view. Please do a RTI on R.P.Singh ( public official? no?) bank account and I will not be surprised to find irregularities.
R.P.Singh is batting for Raja by copying many of Raja's arguments, and he should be ashamed of himself.

from:  steve
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 06:09 IST

Are RP Singh and Raja collaborators? I think a independent SC monitored inquiry is needed to determine the truth or otherwise of Mr Singh's statements.

from:  krishna
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 04:12 IST

As usual, recklessly, The Hindu considers A. Raja already a convicted
criminal on 2G sale even though he has not benefited one paisa out of
the whole deal. Same for Kanimozhi. Yes, there are many similarities
in the arguments of A. Raja and K.P. Singh. So what? If K.P. Singh,
the Director General of CAG, is not the expert to talk about the
difference between 2G and 3G, does this mean Vinod Rai is wholly
qualified? Pathetic argument. Now Aam Aadmi understands how fatally
flawed the "Rai Figure" of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore "presumptive loss" is,
and the Supreme Court in cancelling the entire 122 licenses that A.
Raja approved. What Raja has achieved is increasing the teledensity
very quickly and made the wireless mobile service in India the
cheapest in the entire world. Aam Admi is grateful to him. Therefore,
the time is here and now for the Supreme Court to dismiss all the
criminal charges against A. Raja, Kani and others relating to 2G sale.
That is the right thing to do. Wait & watch.

from:  Yamaka
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 03:53 IST

"When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion -
when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission
from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to
those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get
richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect
you against them, but protect them against you - when you see
corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you
may know that your society is doomed."
Where was Mr RP Singh for the past 2 years? I believe he has been
instrumental in causing more loss to the public exchequer by misleading
the entire country for 2 years.
Neither Govt Nor constitutional bodies care for loss of public money.
No wonder we top in the list of poor health care, child mortality and
poor sanitation.

from:  Madhu
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 03:50 IST

So R.P.Singh's argument is same as Raja's.. Is this what Shalini Singh trying to say? It will be stimulating for those who believe Raja is decidedly guilty and that the Supreme court's word is the word of God.
A thinking man, on the other hand, would examine the facts. Facts are piled
against CAG and the judiciary. There is no such thing as presumptive loss in
accounting or the law. The fallacy stands exposed in the recent spectrum auction. It reminds me of a lawsuit in England. A person used to go work walking without using the public transportation thereby saving money. One day the government decreased the bus fair. As a result this person saved less money and sued the government to compensate the loss.. The 2G case is no different except that the British judiciary rejected the claim; Indian judiciary wholeheartedly took the case, argued the case (never mind it is lawyers job) and delivered verdict in record time, then savor the moment for the saving the country.

from:  Rajesh
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 03:40 IST

Is the 200 cr "loan" to ktv also an illusion?

from:  Simhan
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 03:39 IST

Appreciate that you have thrown light into this matter. Hope Manish Tiwari will now keep his mouth shut

from:  santosh
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 02:37 IST

Who will beleive R P Singh who says he signed Report under pressure fom his superiors. How people should not beleive that such weak person is now making statements under pressure from current Congress government?

from:  harshi
Posted on: Nov 26, 2012 at 00:06 IST

it is not clear what ms.shalini singh wants to convey .whether shaLINI SINGH says r p singh advicates what raja has done.or the views of both of them are identical?
fact is huge loss is caused to the exchequer.many irregularities that have taken place leading to corrupt practices have to be thoroughly investigated. CM jayalalitha has to give a press statement highlighting the irregularities is the need of the hour.

from:  varadh
Posted on: Nov 25, 2012 at 23:36 IST
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