‘Sibal, Vahanvati role in 2G scam be probed’

Last Updated: Thursday, July 7, 2011 - 20:41

New Delhi: An NGO on Thursday moved the Supreme
Court seeking CBI probe against Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal
and Attorney General G E Vahanvati for allegedly favouring
Reliance Infocom on the penalty over 2G licences and bypassing
of rules to give opinion to former minister A Raja
respectively.



The application filed by Centre for Public Interest
Litigation (CPIL) alleged that Sibal reduced the penalty to Rs
five crore from Rs 650 crore against Anil Ambani-headed RCOM
for violations in the UASL agreement.
Regarding Vahanvati, it alleged that he disregarded
the Law Ministry in giving opinion to Raja on 2G spectrum when
he was Solicitor General in UPA-I government.



"Sibal abused his position as minister to over-rule
the unanimous view taken by senior DoT officials including the
Telecom Secretary, to benefit a private operator by closing
the issue with only a penalty of Rs 5 crore.



"This abuse of authority by him to benefit Anil Ambani
controlled Reliance Infocomm needs a thorough investigation by
the CBI," the application said.



The NGO annexed the documents to buttress the
allegation that DoT officials were unanimous that Reliance
group should be imposed penalty of Rs 50 crore per circle for
"violation of the terms and conditions of Universal Service
Obligation Fund (USOF) agreement and UASL agreement by
voluntary, unilateral and unauthorized switching-off/closure
of services to subscribers from USOF sites without any
notice."



The matter is likely to come up for hearing on July 11.
The NGO claimed that instead of imposing Rs 650 crore
for violation of agreement conditions in 13 circles, Sibal
reduced the amount to Rs five crore.



"DoT had issued notice for a penalty of Rs. 50 crore.
If the same was imposed for all 13 circles in which Reliance
had USOF agreements, the fine would rise to Rs. 650 crores. A
detailed explanation was later also prepared by Director USOF
Branch explaining why the penalty needs to be imposed," the
application said.



Raising questions on the role of Vahanvati, the NGO
said that he had rendered advice to Raja disregarding the
basic rule that senior law officers has to give any opinion
through the proper channel of Law Ministry.



"Under the terms of service of a law officer (AG/SG),
no ministry can directly seek the advice/opinion of a law
officer without routing it through the law ministry, and no
law officer can give any opinion/advice to any department
without it being routed through the law ministry.



"But Vahanvati, disregarded these basic rules, and
continued to give opinions to the DoT under Raja which were
then used by him to justify his decisions and actions," it
said.



The fact that AG disregarded the rule has also been
stated by the Public Accounts Committee which in its report
expressed "shock" that Vahanvati travelled beyond his mandate
when the law ministry was of the view that the matter has to
be referred to the EGoM.



The NGO further said that the AG has wrongly given
green signal for grant of license to Swan Telecom, allegedly a
front company of RCOM.



"When questions were repeatedly being raised about
Swan Telecom, including by the DoT itself, Vahanvati again
went out of his way to give a clean chit to Swan," the
application said adding that the involvement of Vahanvati in
the 2G spectrum scam also needs thorough investigation".



PTI



First Published: Thursday, July 7, 2011 - 20:41

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