Airtel, Vodafone charged in spectrum allocation in NDA regime
New Delhi: Three telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India, were Friday chargesheeted by the CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in the allocation of additional spectrum during the NDA regime which had resulted in a loss of Rs 846 crore to the exchequer.
The agency filed its charge sheet, also naming former telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh as accused, before Special CBI Judge O P Saini who fixed January 14 for consideration of the charge sheet.
The charge sheet named three telecom firms -- Bharti Cellular Ltd, Hutchison Max Pvt Ltd (now known as Vodafone India Ltd) and Sterling Cellular Ltd (now known as Vodafone Mobile Service Ltd) -- as accused in the case.
CBI refrained from mentioning the name of then Telecom Minister late Pramod Mahajan as accused in the charge sheet which also did not mention any charge against the promoters of Airtel and Vodafone.
All the accused have been chargesheeted for the offence of criminal conspiracy (120-B) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The agency, in its 57-page charge sheet, said the decision regarding allocation of additional spectrum to these telecom firms was taken in "undue haste" in pursuance to the conspiracy hatched amongst Mahajan, Ghosh and these companies.
"Investigation has thus established that the aforesaid decision dated January 31, 2002 (regarding allocation of additional spectrum) was taken in undue haste pursuant to the criminal conspiracy hatched amongst the accused public servants, late Pramod Mahajan, the then MOC&IT, Shyamal Ghosh, the then secretary DoT and said accused telecom companies," it said.
Jagdish Rai Gupta, a former Deputy Director General (VAS)
cell of DoT and former Director of BSNL, who was named in the FIR, was not made an accused in the case with the CBI saying, "no evidence attributing any criminality on his part or his involvement in the alleged offence has surfaced during the investigation."
Detailing the roles of accused named in the charge sheet, the CBI said Ghosh, a 1965 batch retired IAS officer, in conspiracy with Mahajan and telecom firms, abused his official position to show undue favour to the companies causing a loss of Rs 846.44 crore to the exchequer.
"Investigation has revealed that Shyamal Ghosh, then chairman of Telecom Commission and Secretary DoT, in conspiracy with late Pramod Mahajan, then telecom minister and the accused beneficiary companies i.E Hutchison Max Pvt Ltd, Sterling Cellular Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd through their representatives, abused his official position as public person and showed undue favour which caused loss of Rs 846.44 crores to the government exchequer and corresponding undue gain to the aforesaid telecom companies," it said.
The CBI said that Ghosh "deliberately" and with "malafide intention" did not obtain comments of then Member (Finance) of DoT despite the issue involving huge "financial implications".
"Investigation has therefore revealed that Shyamal Ghosh deliberately with malafide intention did not obtain the comments of the then Member (finance), who was representative of the Ministry of Finance, despite the matter having huge financial implications.
"The wireless advisor, who was the custodian of the entire spectrum, was also intentionally bypassed on filmsy grounds that he was retiring on that very day i.E. On January 31, 2002," it said.