New Delhi: Former Telecom Secretary D S Mathur on Tuesday told a Delhi court that he did not find the Department of Telecom officially processing some key letters on the 2G spectrum allocation issue, exchanged between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and erstwhile Telecom Minister A Raja.
Mathur told Special CBI Judge O P Saini that Raja had received one letter from Prime Minister on November 2, 2007 and had written back two letters to the PM the same day. None of these letters were officially processed by DoT, he said.
"I have been shown a letter dated November 2, 2007, received from the Prime Minister and addressed to A Raja, the then minister in the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. I have not seen this letter being processed in any file of DoT," he said.
"I have been shown two letters, both dated November 2, 2007, written by A Raja to the Prime Minister. I have not seen these letters (too) having been processed in any DoT file," said Mathur, deposing as a key CBI witness in the 2G case.
The former telecom secretary said he did not know about another letter of December 26, 2007 either, written by Raja to the Prime Minister as this too was not processed in any of the DoT file.
Raja's letters to the PM, written on November 2, 2007, pertained to the cut-off date for applying for 2G licences. He had also written to the PM on December 26, 2007, detailing procedures to be adopted for distribution of Letter of Intents (LoIs) and first-come-first serve (FCFS) basis.
Through a letter dated November 2, 2007, Raja had apprised the PM that due to receipt of unexpectedly large number of applications for the 2G spectrum allocation, the cut-off date of October 1, 2007, announced on September 24, 2007 was preponed later to September 25, a step that, the CBI alleges, had been taken to favour some private telecom firms.
Deposing before the court, Mathur said Raja had expressed "displeasure" on a departmental note which suggested "in depth" examination of the 2G spectrum pricing.
"I have been shown a note. This note was written by Manju Madhavan, Member (Finance) in DoT, at that time on November 30, 2007. In this note, she has mentioned a communication received from the Finance Ministry to the effect that the rates proposed to be charged (for spectrum) in 2007 were of the year 2001.
"She suggested in the note that the matter may be examined in depth before further steps are taken in this regard....On this note, Raja passed an order on December 4, 2007. He expressed his displeasure on this note," Mathur said.
He also said a letter was received from the then Finance Secretary D Subbarao raising the issue of spectrum pricing, on which a note was initiated by DoT Director Nitin Jain on November 27, 2007.
"He (Jain) had recorded in the note that government had taken a conscious decision not to bring changes in existing policy and to invite bids for entry fee," he said.
He also referred to a November 29, 2007 letter, addressed to Subbarao by him, in which it was conveyed that "no changes were proposed in the entry fee and the existing policy."
Mathur said another senior DoT official A K Srivastava on September 24, 2007 had made a proposal that October 10, 2007 may be announced as the cut-off date for receiving applications for 2G licences but Raja ordered October 1, 2007 as the last date.
Mathur had yesterday told the court that he had warned Raja against advancing the cut-off date as the same may be considered "arbitrary" and could give rise to "legal complications".
He had said when he raised the issue, Raja had told him that he would reconsider later his decision to prepone the cut-off date from October 1, 2007 to September 25, 2007.