2G Scam: Shourie questioned by CBI

Last Updated: Friday, February 25, 2011 - 17:43

New Delhi: Former Telecom minister Arun
Shourie was on Friday questioned by the CBI during which he
alleged that his successor Dayanidhi Maran had tweaked the
TRAI guidelines in 2005 to benefit some operators.

Emerging after a three-hour long question session,
Shourie told reporters that he had cited several instances to
the investigating officers of alleged irregularities during
Maran`s tenure before A Raja took over as Telecom minister in
2007.

"Maran was the Minister. What is Raja being accused of
Giving these 122 licenses without spectrum, when there is no
spectrum with the Government. But it was in Maran`s time that
one sentence was put into the guidelines that there shall be
no cap on the number of operators in a circle," he said.

Shourie said such a change could only come as a Telecom
Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommendation.

"This (change) comes in the guidelines of 2005 whereas
the TRAI did not recommend it till 2007. So by what horoscope
under Maran was it decided that yes we can anticipate this
recommedation before two years and start. That is how some
operations were planned that could not go through and Raja
acted on them," he quipped.

He also advised Raja to turn approver for the agency and
spill the beans about the beneficiaries of this scam.

Shourie, who reached the CBI headquarters in the
morning, was questioned along with the then Department of
Telecom Secretary Vinod Vaish.

He said he had requested the presence of Vaish and some
other officials because of their technical knowledge about the
issue.

"I told them (the investigators) what were the
circumstances and how individual decisions (regarding spectrum
allocation) were taken that time (during his tenure) and that
there was not a slightest departure from TRAI recommendations.
There was not a slightest departure from the Cabinet
decisions," Shourie said.

Handing over a 50-page note prepared by him on various
issues relating to 2G-spectrum allocation policy appearing in
the media, Shourie said he was ready to appear again if called
by the agency.

The eminent journalist said he informed the CBI that TRAI
did not do anything "surreptitiously" during his tenure and
all the decisions were taken after open consultations.

"Not one of the 28 licenses was given for any lucrative
area. They were given for the areas in which nobody was going.
The objective of the Government was that in the North east,
Bihar, Eastern UP and Jammu and Kashmir, mobile telephony
should be extended and we achieved that," he said.

Shourie said he feels that CBI should concentrate on
where the money was exchanged rather than procedures because
they are mere circumstantial evidence of any changes being
made in them to benefit some parties.

"I pointed out to them the things which were to happen
in accordance with Cabinet decisions never happened neither
during Maran term and certainly not under Raja. And they never
went back to the Cabinet for changing the decision. That is
the telling point...Real issue is money was exchanged," he
said.

On the issue of Prime Minister`s statement that Law
Ministry, Finance Ministry and Telecom Ministry were working
in synergy over spectrum pricing, he refused to give direct
reply but said Law Minister H R Bharadwaj wanted the matter to
be referred to the Group of Ministers but Raja managed to get
terms of reference of GOM changed.

"The matter never goes to GOM, does that show harmony?
Chidambaram keeps writing letters and objecting, Subba Rao
kept writing letters and if Raja then persists in doing
something to contrary to what they are recommending and
Finance Ministry then reconciles to let by gones be by
gones...to infer that they are in harmony is Prime Minister`s
prerogative," he said.

He said he clarified to the investigators some "four-five
issues" raised by Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal and Justice
Shivraj Patil`s report which he termed as based on
"concoctions".

Shourie had held the telecom portfolio between January
2003 and May 2004 in the NDA regime.

According to the CBI, nearly 50 licences were given
out then on a first-come-first-serve basis and Bharti,
Vodafone and Idea were among the beneficiaries of the policy.

The former telecom minister also lambasted Shivraj
Patil committee`s report, saying these "signatures for hire"
(referring to Patil) did not see the documents themselves.

He said Government was trying to divert attention from
the real issue that kickbacks were received in 2G spectrum
allocation.

"While media is busy covering visits of industrialists
and corporates to the CBI, the Prime Minister`s name is out,
(DMK leader) M Karunanidhi`s name is out. Names of other
Congress members are out," he said.

He said as per his information, the CBI has spoken to
the whistleblower who had given the inputs about the scam.

When asked about Prime Minister`s statement on coalition
politics, Shourie said, "Now Raja has been put in jail, has
any consequence followed for the coalition. Why not look at
the compulsions of the DMK? They cannot go against the central
government. See their compulsions as well."

PTI



First Published: Friday, February 25, 2011 - 17:43

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