Vahanvati tookpart in meet on 2G spectrum in 2007

J. Venkatesan
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Meeting was attended by Pranab, Raja

The former Solicitor-General, G.E. Vahanvati, who is now Attorney-General, had participated in the discussions held in the first week of December 2007 with the then External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, on issues relating to 2G spectrum allocation and in that meeting the former Communications Minister, A. Raja, also participated.

The office of the Attorney-General gave this information to Central Public Information Officer R.K. Gupta of the Department of Telecommunications, in response to an order passed by the Central Information Commission on an application from rights activist Subash Chandra Agrawal seeking a number of questions, including whether any discussion was held with the then External Affairs Minister and if so to provide him details.

Initially the CPIO of the department declined to divulge such information. However, the CIC asked him to revisit the matter and to furnish the information sought by the applicant. It was in this context the CPIO wrote to the office of the Attorney-General to ascertain whether Mr. Vahanvati [as the then Solicitor-General] had participated in the meeting.

A.S. Malhotra, PPS to the AG, in his reply to Mr. Gupta's letter dated March 15, said: “The offices of the Solicitor-General [and the AG] do not have a CPIO.” Hence as PPS to the then Solicitor-General and now the AG for India, he had obtained the necessary information to give the response.

On whether discussion was held with the then External Affairs Minister, he said: “Yes. In the first week of December 2007, there was a discussion held with the then Union Minister for External Affairs in relation to the issues raised in the proceedings filed by [Cellular Operators Association of India] COAI before the TDSAT in relation to allocation of spectrum. The Minister for Communications and IT was present. The contentions of the COAI and those of the DoT were explained to the Minister. The meeting lasted about 15 minutes.”

Mr. Malhotra, however, said no minutes were prepared and nor was any written advice given. He said a brief note was prepared by Mr. Vahanvati and handed over to the Minister. Mr. Agrawal had sought the details about the participation of Mr. Vahanvati in the discussions relating to spectrum allocation as according to him it was in violation of the Law Officers (Conditions of Service) Rules.

On the directions of the Central Information Commission in another order the Union Law Ministry provided Mr. Agrawal information stating that the Attorney-General Vahanvati appeared for the BCCI (in the appeal filed by the former BCCI president, A.C. Muthiah) in his private capacity in the Supreme Court and that he obtained prior permission to do so.



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