Raja, two others remanded in CBI custody for 5 days

Last Updated: Thursday, February 3, 2011 - 18:12

New Delhi: The CBI on Thursday accused former
Telecom Minister A Raja of causing a loss of Rs 22,000 crore
to the exchequer by favouring some telecom firms in award of
the 2G spectrum licences and demanded his custody for five
days, which a city court granted.

Raja, former Telecom Secretary Siddartha Behura and Raja`s
former Personal Secretary R K Chandolia, were produced before
Special CBI Judge O P Saini a day after they were arrested in
connection with the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

Wearing a grey safari suit, the 47-year-old DMK MP
appeared cool and composed and greeted the judge with folded
hands.
His counsel Ramesh Gupta sought time for a private
conversation with Raja, which the judge allowed for ten
minutes.

Seeking their custody, CBI counsel Akhilesh argued that
Raja had caused a loss of Rs 22,000 crores to the public
exchequer by favouring some telecom firms in award of the 2G
spectrum licences.

He said due to Raja, at least two telecom firms, including
Swan Telecom and Unitech, were benefited to the tune of
several hundred crores of rupees by selling their stakes to
various other global firms shortly after getting licences.

The CBI said the former minister`s custody was essential
for further questioning because he had been evasive in
replying to their queries during his interrogation earlier at
the agency`s headquarters.

This is for the first time that the CBI is directly
accusing Raja of complicity in the 2G scam after it had filed
an FIR against unknown officials and private persons and
companies on October 21, 2009.

Though the agency has pegged the loss at Rs 22,000 crore
based on the calculations made by the CVC, the CAG had in its
report had projected a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore. The three were arrested for allegedly abusing their
official position and favouring some telecom companies in
grant of licences by manipulating the procedures.

Raja`s counsel Ramesh Gupta strongly opposed the CBI plea
saying his client was innocent and all the decisions with
regard to granting of 2G spectrum licences had the approval of
the Union Cabinet and various statutory panels.

"Accordingly, Raja was not solely responsible in the
alleged scam," Gupta contended.

He said, "All the documents had been seized by the CBI in
2009 itself and moreover Raja had already been interrogated at
the agency`s headquarters several times in the past."

The CBI should not be awarded Raja`s custody just for the
sake of interrogation, Gupta said, adding, "There has to be a
justification for the same."

However, at the end of the arguments, the judge gave the
CBI the custody of Raja and the two others for five days.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, February 3, 2011 - 18:12

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