New Delhi: Former Telecom Minister A Raja today said the decision to advance the cut-off date for accepting applications for grant of 2G spectrum licences was taken after due deliberations in the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and not unilaterally by him. Opposing the CBI’s allegation that he had unilaterally advanced the cut-off date to September 25, 2007, Raja argued before a special court that the issue had cropped up as a large number of applications were received in DoT seeking 2G licences after Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendation.
In its charge sheet, CBI had alleged that even though the cut-off date of October 1, 2007 was announced by DoT, Raja had already taken a view that the cut-off date would remain September 25.
Advocate Manu Sharma, appearing for Raja, argued that the CBI’s allegation that the DMK leader had advanced the cut-off date to favour Unitech Ltd Managing Director Sanjay Chandra was not substantiated with the evidence placed on record.
“It is not proved beyond reasonable doubt that I (Raja) changed the date of October 10, 2007 to October 1, 2007,” he told Special CBI Judge O P Saini during the final arguments in 2G spectrum allocation case in which Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and 15 others are facing trial.
“The cut-off date was DoT’s decision and not my individual decision. It was taken after due deliberations in department,” Sharma said. Raja’s counsel alleged that DoT’s former Deputy Director General (AS), A K Srivastava, a key CBI witness in the case, had deposed falsely before the court regarding movement of files in DoT on the issue of cut-off date.
“In this case, A K Srivastava was a party to the decision of having September 25, 2007 as the cut-off date. In fact, he had initiated the note for this. The prosecution forced him to tell a lie before the court. How can we rely on his testimony,” the lawyer contended.
He also argued that the then Member (Technology) and the then Telecom Secretary had also agreed to the cut-off date of October 1, 2007. “As per the CBI’s case, if we assume that there was a conspiracy, then why the then Member (Technology) and then Telecom Secretary were agreeing with it (cut-off date),” he said during the arguments, which would continue tomorrow.
Raja had yesterday told the court that all decisions taken by him regarding 2G spectrum allocation were “unanimous” and he had shared the details with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other cabinet colleagues at all crucial stages.
CBI had earlier alleged in the court that Raja had “misled” the then Prime Minister regarding the policy of first-come-first-served (FCFS) which was to be followed for allocation of 2G spectrum.
Regarding the alleged conspiracy, the CBI had claimed Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd promoters Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka were in touch with Raja and his then private secretary R K Chandolia when Raja was the Minister of Environment and Forest.
Besides Raja, Kanimozhi, Chandolia, Chandra, Balwa and Goenka, former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura and three top executives of Reliance ADAG – Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair – are facing trial in the case.
Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV Director Sharad Kumar and Bollywood producer Karim Morani are also accused in the case, besides three telecom companies — Reliance Telecom Ltd, Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd.
In its charge sheet, CBI had alleged a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of 122 licences for 2G spectrum, which was scrapped by the Supreme Court on February 2, 2012.
All these accused have denied the allegations levelled against them by CBI.