The CBI on Tuesday opposed the bail plea of Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa saying the first-come-first-served (FCFS) policy was manipulated by former Telecom Minister A. Raja and others to such an extent that physically fit persons got away with the 2G licenses.
“Physical fitness of the applicants became the deciding factor in the grant of licenses,” senior advocate and CBI prosecutor U. U. Lalit told Special Judge O. P. Saini.
Mr. Balwa, who has been in jail since his arrest in Mumbai on February 8, has moved the bail application saying he had been “unfairly” targeted by CBI and committed no offence.
The idea behind setting up four counters at Sanchar Bhawan on January 10, 2008 for grant of letter of intents (LoIs) to firms including Swan Telcom negated the FCFS policy adopted for the grant of UAS licenses, Mr. Lalit said.
“What is it that determined seniority was not the date of application but your agility. It was about how agile, energetic and fit enough you are to reach the counters (set in Sanchar Bhawan) first,” he said.
“This particular device was adopted to favour Swan and Unitech. If they were to go by seniority, Delhi circle would have gone to anybody. People were clamouring for lucrative regions. Nobody was interested in regions like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh. If I want the best of the lot, the cherry, I need to go to the counter first,” he said.
“To sum up, so far as Shahid Balwa is concerned, he and Vinod Goenka were in charge and responsible for the affairs of Swan Telecom, which received favours due to all these gimmicks. Advantage of Rs. 3,600 crore is enormous.
“Propensity of this person (Shahid Balwa) and reverse money trail itself is indicative that he is not entitled to benefit of his release on bail,” he said.
The prosecutor also referred to the charge sheet to buttress his allegations that Swan Telecom, promoted by Mr. Balwa, was nothing but a front company of Reliance ADAG to circumvent the then telecom policy which debarred the usage of dual technology by existing players.
Mr. Balwa and Mr. Goenka came on the board of STPL, promoted by Reliance ADAG after Reliance got back its money put in as subscription to preference shares in STPL.
“The sum and substance is that a company which, to start with, was not eligible to make an application for spectrum license was thus transfered to Balwa and Goenka,” he said.
Mr. Raja entered into a conspiracy with others to favour various firms including Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Private Ltd.
The court has now posted the matter for hearing on May 18 when Mr. Balwa’s counsel would advance arguments on the bail plea.