The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday told a Delhi court that former Telecom Minister A. Raja had approved the grant of dual technology 2G spectrum licences to his favourite telecom firms like ADAG’s Reliance Communication and others a day before inviting applications for it.
Opening his arguments on framing of charges before Special Judge O.P. Saini, Special Public Prosecutor U.U. Lalit said Mr. Raja had given in-principle approval for grant of 2G licences to Reliance, HFCL and Shyam Tele link on September 18, 2007, a day before his ministry officially opened the scheme on September 19, 2007, for grant of these licences.
A day later as Tata Teleservices applied for the 2G spectrum licence on September 19, the Telecom Minstry deliberately sat over its plea, he added.
“On September 19, 2007, the press release for approval of dual technology was issued but a day earlier on September 18, 2007 itself, Mr. Raja had granted in-principle approval for dual technology (licence) for Reliance, HFCL and Shyam Tele link,” said Mr. Lalit.
“On September 19, 2007, Tata Teleservices applied for dual technology spectrum but their application was not treated in a similar fashion. It was kept pending and deliberately so with a design,” he added.
Mr. Lalit said had the Tata Teleservices’ application for dual technology licence been approved, the priority for “Raja’s favourites” would have been affected.
Violation of rules
Mr. Lalit argued Reliance had floated Swan Telecom as it was not sure if its application for dual technology use of spectrum will be allowed.
But by floating a front company, Reliance had violated the law which stipulated that no group can have substantial equity holdings in in two companies within the same circle, he contended.
“It (Reliance) was unclear whether they will be allowed GSM spectrum through dual technology. So, they put up the particular company... Swan was nothing but an alter ego of Reliance. Various companies were formed as associates and they fraudulently showed transfer of shares,” said Mr. Lalit.
He argued for framing charges against the 2G scam accused on five counts including those on changes in cut—off list, violation of first—come—first—serve policy, approval of dual technology and eligibility, besides that for cheating the government.
'Raja misled PM'
Mr. Lalit told the court that Mr. Raja had misled even the Prime Minister’s office on issue of cut—off date for applying for 2G licence. He wrote letters to the Prime Minister on November 2, 2007, misrepresenting facts about the cut—off date, he added.
Mr. Lalit pointed out that various letters and file notings clearly showed that while the change in cut—off date was made public much later in January 2008, Mr. Raja had intended to prepone the last date for application in November 2007 itself.
Mr. Lalit said “Raja in conspiracy with his aide R K Chandolia (personal secretary) and Siddhartha Behura (former Telecom Secretary)” ensured receipt of Unitech Wireless’ application and once it was received they stopped accepting more of them from other firms.
Mr. Lalit said Mr. Raja, along with Chandolia and Behura, had designed deviations in the first—come—first—serve (FCFS) policy to favour Sanjay Chandra’s Unitech Wireless and Swan Telecom.
He said by these “ill—designs” of Mr .Raja and others in the Telecom Ministry, Swan Telecom jumped to a higher position in priority list above Spice Communication which had applied for the spectrum in August 2006 whereas Swan Telecom had applied only in March 2007.
“Spice Communication, following the existing FCFS principle, would have been the first priority, Tata second and Swan would have been at priority number five but Swan came at priority number one in the final list. This is how it gets manipulated,” Mr. Lalit said.
“FCFS principle meant that whosoever applies first will get priority in allocation of spectrum. The policy was disregarded by introducing new clauses which were the fulcrum of all misdeeds,” he said.
The agency then turned to the allegations it has made in its second charge sheet saying that in return for the favours granted to it, Swan Telecom bribed the accused and transferred Rs 200 crore to DMK—run Kalaignar TV through a circuitous route.