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Why was no action taken on Manmohan's letter to Raja, asks Supreme Court

File photo shows former Telecom Minister A. Raja being taken to the court by CBI officials in New Delhi.

File photo shows former Telecom Minister A. Raja being taken to the court by CBI officials in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

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Had auction suggestion been followed, scam could have been averted

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre why no action was taken on the November 2, 2007 letter written by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the then Telecom Minister A. Raja, suggesting “introduction of a transparent methodology of auction” for spectrum allocation.

The whole scam could have been prevented had timely action been taken on the Prime Minister's suggestion, instead of allowing Mr. Raja to follow the first come, first served policy, a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and H.L. Dattu felt. It was hearing the bail applications of Unitech Wireless managing director Sanjay Chandra and Swan Telecom director Vinod Goenka, accused in the 2G case

Justice Singhvi told Additional Solicitor-General Harin P. Raval: “The charge sheet contains a date, November 2, 2007, which is a crucial date. Everybody knows about that date and you [CBI] also know that. The Head of the Government [Prime Minister] writes a >letter [to Mr. Raja] that spectrum is a scarce commodity and it should be auctioned. The Minister did not agree. The Finance Department also objected to it. Do you think the government was not aware of what was going on?”

(In his >letter, the Prime Minister said that in order that spectrum use efficiency got directly linked with correct pricing of spectrum, a transparent methodology of auction could be introduced wherever legally and technically feasible, and the entry fee which was currently benchmarked on the old spectrum auction figures could be revised.)

Justice Singhvi said: “The scheduled meeting of the Full Telecom Commission on January 9, 2008 was postponed to January 15, 2008 and on January 10, 2008 Mr. Raja issued 122 LoIs [Letters of Intent] for the 2G spectrum without following the policy of auction. At this stage, you [government] could have avoided the entire exercise by taking a decision this way or that. What prevented the government from taking a step all these three years as an LoI in itself does not create a right and the government should have taken a step. For three years from September-October 2008 when complaints in writing were made, including to the CVC [Central Vigilance Commission], about the seriousness of the issue, couldn't steps have been taken to put an end to this?”

Mr. Raval said: “It was on January 10, 2008 that it came to the knowledge of the government that a decision had been taken by the then Telecom Minister about issue of LoIs. The Minister by his conduct and criminal conspiracy brought [about] this situation and even if some action was taken on the [Prime Minister's] letter, criminality would still remain.”

Justice Singhvi wondered whether the gravity of the offences could have been minimised. “See how much valuable time of various institutions this [scam] has taken in the process.”

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 6:11:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Why-was-no-action-taken-on-Manmohans-letter-to-Raja-asks-Supreme-Court/article13435433.ece

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