While the former Aircel owner, C. Sivasankaran, reportedly told CBI officials that he was forced to sell his stake to the Malaysian company, Maxis Communications has said its acquisition of Aircel was made “after a negotiated process in which both parties had extensive professional advice. It was a competitive process involving other bidders…Maxis succeeded because it offered the best terms. There was, to Maxis' knowledge, no pressure exerted on [Mr. Sivasankaran] to sell [his] stake in Aircel.” The company also said there is “no linkage between Maxis' investment in Aircel and that of Astro's investment in Sun Direct TV.”
The Justice Shivaraj Patil Committee, which looked into procedures followed for allocation of licences and spectrum between 2001 and 2009, has pointed out that in 2004, the then Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran's office delayed licences to Dishnet Wireless (now Aircel) by raising queries that were “vague” and “irrelevant.”
The panel stated that Mr. Maran issued directions that did not appear to be contemplated in the notified procedures. Interestingly, the licences were given three years later in 2007, after the ownership of Aircel changed hands.
The Committee report also accuses Mr. Maran of not consulting the Telecom Commission, the Telecom Department's decision-making body, and ignoring the Group of Ministers (GoM) while taking crucial policy decisions. The Minister deviated from “extant policy” by not discussing the issue of determining the entry fee for telecom licence with the Union Finance Ministry. He overruled a Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted by the Prime Minister and got spectrum pricing removed from its terms of reference, despite strong reservations from the Ministry of Finance, it said.