New Delhi: Former CBI director AP Singh, under whose tenure the 2G spectrum allocation scam was investigated, expressed hope that the Delhi court hearing the case will find all those accused in the case guilty and refuted the assertions that the investigative agency was a “caged parrot”.
The fates of DMK’s A Raja and Kanimozhi, Bollywood producer Karim Morani, businessman Shahid Balwa and several others will be decided on Thursday. They have been accused of corruption and bribery in the case that was unearthed under the previous UPA government and dubbed the biggest abuse of power.
Singh said that even though there was a lot of pressure during the probe because of the personalities involved, not once was the CBI’s work criticised by the Supreme Court. This gives him hope that the ruling will be in the agency’s favour.
CBI had taken up the investigation in the case after the CAG pegged the presumptive loss at a whopping Rs 1.76 lakh crore. The figure became a political tool for the BJP, then in the opposition benches, and along with the coal scam, ultimately brought the downfall of the UPA government.
To prove his point that the CBI was fair in its investigation, Singh pointed out that the government was tossing around the “zero loss” figure to counter the CAG, but the CBI calculated the loss based on the adjusted gross revenue and stood by its figure of Rs 30,000 crore loss.
Singh explained that the CBI did not go into the presumptive loss figures like the CAG, and instead, calculated it based on comparison to auction price of spectrum licences in 2001 and the cost at which licenses were given in 2007.
“We were validated because immediately after the grant of license, Swan telecom offloaded 45 per cent equity for Rs 4,200 crore and Unitech 65 per cent equity for Rs 6,200 crore. If you take that on a pro rata basis the figure comes to 30,000 crores as well," he said, explaining how CBI arrived at the loss figure in its charge sheet.
Recalling the initial days of the probe, Singh detailed the evidence they gathered against then telecom minister A Raja and the others. "
"A lot of important people were called for questioning (back in 2009). Basically what we found was that Mr Raja tried to favour two companies - Swan, then owned by Balwa, and Unitech. Both were realty firms and Mr Raja was the environment minister before he came to telecom. So he was well connected with them. So, the entire procedure of giving licences was to favour these two (firms),” he said.
He said there was evidence to show that even counters to submit the tenders were placed in such a way so as to favour the two companies. In some cases, they were physically shut to make it difficult for companies who were competing with Swan and Unitech, he claimed.
“To help Swan and Unitech, certain procedures like the cutoff date were violated. The system was first-come-first-serve, so the one who applies first gets the letter of intent first and gets the first chance to comply. But Mr Raja twisted this to say whoever complies first, as in makes the payment first, get the licence first,” he alleged.
The former CBI chief said Raja “leaked” this information to “certain people beforehand”.
“Some companies like Swan and Unitech were already prepared with the draft and the counters were also placed in a way to favour these firms. For example, Swan wanted the Delhi circle where there was only one licence available. That went to Swan because they had advance information and things were manipulated. Similarly, Unitech got priority in all the 22 circles where it applied. So, the first-come-first-serve basis was completely manipulated,” Singh added.
When asked if the CBI, often called the caged parrot, managed to ward off pressure from the government only because SC was monitoring the probe, Singh said, “I don't think CBI was a caged parrot at that point because we chargesheeted Kanimozhi. We could trace the kickback of Rs 200 crore from Balwa via Cineyug and Kusegaon realty to Kalignar TV of which Kanimozhi was 22% shareholder."
He also pointed out that calling CBI a caged parrot is unfair as in the same period it had prosecuted Suresh Kalmadi and Ashok Chavan, both Congress leaders. "These were cases not monitored by Supreme Court,” he said.