Shared details of 2G spectrum allocation with Manmohan Singh, others: A Raja
Former Telecom Minister A Raja Monday told a special court that all decisions taken by him regarding 2G spectrum allocation were "unanimous" and he had shared the details with then PM Manmohan Singh and other cabinet colleagues at all crucial stages.
New Delhi: Former Telecom Minister A Raja Monday told a special court that all decisions taken by him regarding 2G spectrum allocation were "unanimous" and he had shared the details with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other cabinet colleagues at all crucial stages.
Initiating his final arguments in 2G spectrum allocation case in which Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and 15 others are facing trial, the DMK leader said that "no departures" were ever made from the proposal of Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
"Every decision A Raja had taken were all proposals of department and all the decisions were unanimous. All decisions were in the exact fashion as they were set out in the file notings. No departures were ever made," advocate Manu Sharma, appearing for Raja, told Special CBI Judge O P Saini.
"At all crucial stages, the decisions were shared with the then Prime Minister and other cabinet colleagues," he said, adding, concurrence of then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and then Solicitor General G E Vahanvati were also taken.
During arguments, the court asked Raja's counsel, "ordinarily, the conspiracy is hatched in secrecy but can the offence of conspiracy be made out if it is done in open?"
The court's question came after the counsel argued that there was no conspiracy as alleged by CBI as whatever Raja had done was in public domain and even Parliament was informed about it.
Regarding the court's query, Sharma said he would respond to it during his final arguments.
Raja's counsel also argued that not a single penny came as a pecuniary gain to his client from the whole episode and every act which was attributed to him can be viewed from the prism of the 'New Telecom Policy of 1999' and can be verified whether the objectives were achieved or not.
"At various forums, his (Raja) stand has been vindicated and the then Prime Minister as well as his successors have all supported the claims made by him in Parliament," Sharma said adding that even DoT has relied on his decisions.
Raja's counsel further said that the necessary ingrediant of dishonest intention was not satisfied in the present case.
Outlining the issue of cut-off date, he said 'overrding principle' followed by DoT was to introduce new operators only after first ascertaining that there was adequate spectrum and new operators could only be introduced after taking the positive recommendation of TRAI.
He said that in 2003, the Unified Access Services Licence (UASL) regime started after the Group of Ministers accepted the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recomendation and after cabinet approval, it was implemented.
"What happened between 2004-2007 before Raja took over charge was that 51 new UASL were given and records suggest that DoT never asked TRAI whether they can issue licence or not or did they assess the availabilty of spectrum as per the norm of overriding principle," Raja's counsel said during the
arguments, which would continue tomorrow.
He further argued that there are multifarious examples to show that even when there was no availability of spectrum in a particular circle, DoT gave licenses to operators in circles like Mumbai Metro and Jammu and Kashmir.
He said that in the charge sheet it was alleged that there was no over-riding principle of prior assessment of spectrum or zone of consideration.
During the proceedings, Raja himself argued before the court and said that UASL clearly said that spectrum was not essential for giving the licence.
CBI had earlier alleged in the court that Raja had "misled" then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh regarding policy of first-come-first-served (FCFS) which was to be followed for allocation of 2G spectrum.
Regarding the alleged conspiracy, CBI had said Unitech Ltd Managing Director Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd promoters Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka were in touch with Raja and his then private secretary R K Chandolia when Raja was the Minister of Environment and Forest.
Besides Raja, Kanimozhi, Chandolia, Chandra, Balwa and Goenka, former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura and three top executives of Reliance ADAG - Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair - are facing trial in the case.
Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV Director Sharad Kumar and Bollywood producer Karim Morani are also accused in the case, besides three telecom companies -- Reliance Telecom Ltd, STPL and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd.
In its charge sheet, CBI had alleged a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of 122 licences for 2G spectrum, which was scrapped by the Supreme Court on February 2, 2012.
All the accused have denied the allegations levelled against them by CBI.