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Summon Manmohan, Chidambaram, Sibal as witnesses, says A. Raja

The former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, on Wednesday told the special CBI court that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal should be summoned as witnesses to prove that the government did not incur any loss in award of licences and allocation of 2G spectrum. Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi had also demanded summoning of the three leaders as witnesses on Tuesday.

Senior Advocate Sushil Kumar, representing Mr. Raja, said once it was proved that there was no loss caused to the exchequer during Mr. Raja's tenure as Telecom Minister, the charges of conspiracy and cheating against him would not hold.

Mr. Raja said his initiative to levy spectrum charges on a revenue share basis as a percentage of the Adjusted Gross Revenue beyond 6.2 MHz for incumbent players and 4.4 MHz for new ones had attracted animosity from a few telecom companies. “It was my brainchild to ask incumbent operators to pay for spectrum. What I did in public interest is now being used against me,” Mr. Raja said.

Mr. Kumar alleged that a cartel of telecom companies had made Mr. Raja pay a heavy price as his policies were not favouring them.

Counsel also alleged that a document relating to Mr. Raja's views on setting a lock-in period for UAS licencees was not produced in court. “Why are they hiding it? This completely exonerates me. The most crucial document seized 18 months ago has not been produced.”

Taking 40 minutes to personally argue his case after his counsel Mr. Kumar completed arguments, an emotional Mr. Raja pointed to a media report that had pegged the kickbacks he received at Rs.3,000 crore. “I did not file even a single bail application but that does not mean that I am enjoying my stay at Tihar Jail. I have my own grievances and trauma. I challenge the CBI, the ED and IT Department to please show me one rupee belonging to my wife or family that is bribe money. Then I will accept this case,” he said.

Training his anger at the media, Mr. Raja recalled the Constituent Assembly debates where B.R. Ambedkar responded to calls for accountability of the Press: “If I recollect correctly, Dr. Ambedkar had said that when the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary would fail, the fourth pillar will be the only asylum. In the spectrum case, the asylum has turned into a slaughterhouse for Raja.”

Mr. Raja also questioned the CAG report which said that he took four crucial decisions on the award of UAS licences independently. He alleged that Prashant Bhushan and Subramanian Swamy had gone to the Supreme Court by merely relying on media reports.




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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 7:40:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/summon-manmohan-chidambaram-sibal-as-witnesses-says-a-raja/article2392150.ece

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