A Department of Telecommunication (DoT) official on Thursday testified before a Delhi court, trying the 2G spectrum case, that the 2010 TRAI report said that it was not “feasible” to auction the spectrum.
Deposing as a prosecution witness, Viresh Goel, DoT’s Deputy Advisor (MN), told Special CBI Judge O. P. Saini that in the 2010 report of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), it was mentioned that spectrum should be given to the new operators at a “reasonably low price”.
“In paragraph 3.116 (of the TRAI report), it is mentioned that spectrum to the new operators should be given at a reasonably low price. It is further stated that this was the reason that the figure of Rs. 1659 crore (entry fee) was maintained for so many years.
“It is correct that in paragraph 3.46 (of the TRAI report) it is mentioned that in the view of the authority it was not feasible to auction the spectrum in 800, 900 and 1800 MHz band,” Mr. Goel said.
He told the court that when his statement was recorded by the CBI in March last year during the investigation of the case, he had given his statement as “desired” by the agency and told the investigating officer (IO) whatever was asked of him.
“I was called by CBI only once. I had given my statement to CBI as desired by it and not on my own. Whatever was asked by the IO, was said by me. I did not make any effort on my own to tell IO anything... the IO asked me facts which are mentioned in my statement and nothing beyond that was asked,” he said.
The witness, however, in his cross-examination, said “it is wrong to suggest that my statement was already ready when I went to the CBI office.”
Mr. Goel, who was on deputation in TRAI from January, 2010, to June, 2011, said he had provided the data to CBI regarding Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) per MHz on behalf of TRAI but he was not aware about gross revenue.
The witness, whose recording of statement concluded today, said the companies, allotted spectrum up to 2007, were granted spectrum ranging from 6.2 MHz to 12.4 MHz. He said some firms might have been allocated spectrum of 4.4 MHz only.
“I do not know if for allocation of additional spectrum ranging from 6.2 MHz to 12.4 MHz, the licencees had paid any additional fee as I was not associated with the same. I do not know if the additional spectrum ranging from 6.2 MHz to 12.4 MHz was allocated on subscriber link criteria,” he said.
On being shown the TRAI report, he said it was mentioned that free space coverage in 900 MHz band is four times than 1800 MHz band.
Besides Mr. Goel, the court also recorded the statement of prosecution witness Vinod Kumar Budhiraja, Chief Regulatory Officer of Etisalat DB Telecom (P) Ltd.