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CBI receives jolt in bid to close Rs 800-cr telecom fraud

Last Updated: Sunday, October 4, 2009 - 10:01

New Delhi: CBI`s bid to close an alleged
telecom fraud case to the tune of Rs 800 crore against 19
people, including the then CMD of MTNL, received a jolt as a
Delhi court has allowed a petition, which opposes the move.

Special CBI Judge O P Saini allowed the secretary of NGO
`Telecom Watchdog` to contest the closure of the case by the
probe agency.

The judge held that Anil Kumar, secretary of the NGO, who
has filed the objection in his personal capacity, has a "locus
standi" and may file his opposition to the agency`s report
favouring closure of investigation.

The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing
on October 5.

The alleged fraud relates to payments made against tender
agreement with M/s Motorola India Ltd for establishing of
CDMA-based WLL service (commonly known as "Garuda") for the
state-owned MTNL.

In 1999, MTNL invited tender for its limited mobile
services for 150,000 lines, to be implemented in three phases.
Motorola was allegedly paid money at the behest telecom
officials despite several deficiencies in the project.

Earlier, CBI had allegedly favoured prosecution of 19
people, including MTNL`s then CMD RSP Sinha, P Singh,
former general manager of MTNL and the country head of

V K Ohri, counsel for Anil Kumar, said, "CBI filed final
report on May 25. The reasons given by CBI for closure of the
case are completely false and contradict its own findings."

Earlier, the agency opposed Kumar`s plea that he be heard
as a complainant in the case, saying that he had no "locus
standi" to oppose its closure report.

Seeking rejection of CBI`s report, Ohri said a case was
registered on September 27, 2003 under various provisions of
the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act following the
seizure of Rs 50 lakh from an office of M/s United Telecom
Ltd here during an IT raid.

CBI, which found prima facie evidence to investigate
roles of the officials and others, had sought approval from
the competent authorities to prosecute them, Ohri said.

"Now the same CBI is saying that it had no evidence to
prosecute them," he said.

The accused MTNL officials had allegedly connived with
the private telecom major by continuing with the CDMA project
despite the fact that its earlier projects had "inherent
technical deficiencies".

"Even objection from the MTNL Board was ignored and
payment was released in favour of Motorola ... the private
company could not complete the project on time and it caused
loss to MTNL to the tune of Rs 174 crore," Ohri said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, October 4, 2009 - 10:01
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