‘Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was misled by then Minister A. Raja’
The report of the 30-member Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on allocation and pricing of telecom licences and 2G Spectrum during 1998-2009 was presented to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Tuesday and made public. The report is available on the Lok Sabha website www.loksabha.nic.in
The report, with seven dissent notes, given by the members of the BJP, the CPI(M), the CPI, the DMK, the AIADMK, the Trinamool Congress and the BJD, which was presented by its Chairman and Congress MP P.C. Chacko to the Speaker, in the presence of Lok Sabha Secretary-General S. Balshekar, concluded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was misled by the then Communications Minister, A. Raja, on the procedure to be followed by the Department of Telecommunications in issuance of the Unified Access Services licences.
The assurance given by Mr. Raja in all his correspondence with Dr. Singh to maintain full transparency stood belied.
“Procedure outlined was a misrepresentation of facts’’
The report pointed out that “the procedure outlined ...regarding first-come, first-served (FCFS) criteria was a misrepresentation of facts and in tactic deviation from the existing procedure. As per this policy, the applications which were received first in the DoT were issued Letter of Intent (LOI) first. The applications received later were not considered till the applications received earlier were decided and allocated LOI. In case approvals for more than one LOI in the same Telecom Circle was received simultaneously, the earlier applicant was issued LOI first and the latter one was issued LOI at least a day after, in order to maintain the same priority for signing of UAS licence as well as allocation of spectrum”.
On the CAG’s report estimating Rs.1.76 lakh crore loss in the allocation of 2G Spectrum, the committee felt “the figures could have been more realistic deriving of proven facts.” One could hardly find precedents where the loss figures were calculated by the CAG in such a varying range as in the case of this report.
About the 2G Spectrum allocation in the NDA regime, the report said the government had to “forego” revenue to the tune of Rs. 42,080.34 crore while offering Migration Package to cellular operators.
Earlier, Mr. Chacko, replying to a question why Mr. Raja was refused permission to depose before the Committee, said the Committee decided not to call him. “It was the decision of the JPC and I have not taken any decision on my own”.