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2G scam: JPC to quiz former telecom secretaries

Last Updated: Thursday, July 7, 2011 - 12:17

New Delhi: The questioning of nine former telecom secretaries, including Siddharth Behura, who is jailed, will start from Thursday by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) that is probing India`s telecom pricing policy in the backdrop of the alleged financial irregularities in allotting 2G mobile phone licences.

The other former secretaries who will testify before the multi-party parliamentary probe panel are A V Gokak , Anil Kumar , Shyamal Ghosh , Vinod Vaish , Nripendra Misra , J S Sharma , D S Mathur and P J Thomas .
The held office between 1998 and 2008 would separately depose before the panel on July 7, 8, 11 and 12, according to sources.

Behura, in Tihar Jail since Feb 2, will appear before the JPC on July 12 following an order from a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court.

The probe agency has alleged that Behura, who was the telecom secretary from Jan 1, 2008 to Sept 30, 2009, had indulged into criminal conspiracy in the 2G scam when A. Raja, who is also in jail, was the telecom minister then.
Apart from Raja and Behura, 12 others, including DMK chief M Karunidhi`s daughter Kanimozhi, have been jailed in the 2G scam, that the Comptroller and Auditor General says caused a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore as the scarce airwaves were sold at throwaway prices.

Former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chiefs, including S S Sodhi, M S Verma and Pradip Baijal, have also been called to appear before the committee. The dates for their deposition have not been finalized as yet.

According to JPC chairman P C Chacko, the panel has shortlisted 85 people to be called as witnesses before the committee. These include all communication ministers between 1998 and 2008, including Raja.

The panel has sought the CBI court`s permission to question Raja.

Those to be called before the panel also include officials of the 11 firms which benefited in the 2008 licence allocation and 22 companies which got advantages due to the 1999 telecom migration policy.

The JPC is examining India`s telecom pricing policy 1998-2008 that covers the period of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that was in power 1998-2004.

The panel was formed following persistent demands by the opposition after allegations surfaced of irregularities in the allocation of licences for second generation mobile telephony.


First Published: Thursday, July 7, 2011 - 12:17
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