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2G Scam: The Case Against A Raja Which Could Land Him In Jail for Life

The CBI maintains that as part of a well thought out conspiracy, Raja changed the first-come-first-serve policy approved by the Union cabinet. He also kept then PM Manmohan Singh in the dark about the implications of the steps he was taking.

Arunima | CNN-News18Arunima24

Updated:December 21, 2017, 8:22 AM IST
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2G Scam: The Case Against A Raja Which Could Land Him In Jail for Life
File photo of former Telecom Minister A Raja.
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New Delhi: Accused number one the 2G scam case, A Raja had tried every trick in the book to claim innocence.

He first argued that he is being victimised because his decisions as telecom minister took mobile telephony away from the elite to the poorest of the poor.

He then said that the then Prime minister was as complicit as him in the decision making process.

But the Central Bureau of Investigation submitted two chargesheets and eight trunk-loads of documentary evidence to negate Raja's defence.

The CBI maintains that as part of a well thought out conspiracy, Raja changed the first-come-first-serve policy approved by the Union cabinet. He also kept then PM Manmohan Singh in the dark about the implications of the steps he was taking.

AP Singh, who was the director of the CBI during the investigation, said, "A Raja refused to revise the entry fee for the 122 UAS (Unified Access Service) Licences in spite of recommendations of Ministry of Finance, PMO and TRAI. The Finance Ministry, TRAI and PMO had suggested a transparent methodology of auction failing which revision of entry fee currently bench marked on 2001 auction figures to a realistic price to be reassessed through a market mechanism. Raja despite the above suggestions gave away the licences at the same fee discovered in 2001 thereby depriving the government of possible revenues that could have accrued."

The principle charges against Raja are:

1) He arbitrarily changed the first-come-first-serve policy

2) He arbitrarily changed the cut-off date

3) He went against directions from Ministries of Law, Finance and PMO

4) He accepted bribe to favour Swan and Unitech

CBI believes that as part of conspiracy Raja, his PA RK Chandolia and then telecom secretary Sidhharth Behura changed the first-cum-first serve policy. The policy was meant to be - apply first, get license first. But the accused made it comply with the Letter of Intent (LoI) first, get licence first. Subsequently, they changed the cut-off date from October 1, 2007, to September 24, 2007.

"Even FCFS was implemented by DoT in a manner which resulted in wrongful gain to certain companies," CBI said in its chargesheet. "Accused selectively leaked the information to some of the applicants (Unitech and Swan) regarding the date of issuance of letter of intent on January 10, 2008. In the LoI, an arbitrary condition was incorporated that whoever deposits the fees first would be first to get license. Since some of the applicants who had prior information about this were ready with the amount, they were able to deposit the fees earlier. Thus, a favour done by leaking the information about date of issuance of Letter of Intent," the chargesheet said.

On the day the Letters of Intent were issued, the counter placement in Sanchar Bhawan was also in keeping with Raja's decision to favour Shahid Balwa's Swan Telecom and Sanjay Chandra's Unitech, CBI said.

CBI said, “On the 2nd floor of Sanchar Bhawan, four counters were set up to distribute LoI. Swan was deliberately given counter one, making it easy for them to run to the reception area to deposit the draft. After receiving LoI, the company representatives had to rush to the ground floor reception to pay the amount and complete other formalities with the LoI. Only once they completed these formalities would they be eligible for a licence.

“This lead to utter chaos in reception area, company representatives who were fitter dashed to the reception first. The counters also were physically placed in a way that Balwa was favoured even though other companies had reached Sanchar Bhawan before him. So first-come-first-serve was also manipulated, CBI added.

As far as the cut-off date was concerned, CBI produced documents before the court to prove Raja's conspiracy with Chandolia, Behura, Balwa and others.

"On September 24, 2007, Chandolia enquired from concerned officer whether applications from Unitech ltd for new UAS has been received and directed that no application should be accepted after the receipt of the Unitech application which was expected on the same day,” the CBI chargesheet said.

“When informed that receipt of applications cannot be arbitrarily stopped, DDG (AS-I) was asked to put up a note in this regard. A note was put up adding that public needs to be informed through press release if receipt of application was to be discontinued arbitrarily," it added.

A press release was issued on September 24, 2007 which appeared in papers on the September 25, 2007 by DoT mentioning that no applications for UAS license will be accepted by DOT after October 1, 2007 till further orders. However, applications received up to September 25 were the only ones considered which was also against TRAI order stating that no cap should be put on the number of access service providers in any service area, CBI alleged.

The agency also produced evidence to show that Raja deliberately went against directions from Ministry of Law, Ministry of Finance and the PMO. "When informed by the Ministry of Law and Justice that a change in the cut-off date has to be approved by an empowered group of ministers, Raja superseded it and took the decision on the cut-off date on his own," CBI said.

The CBI chargesheet also mention that Raja manipulated the PM, the solicitor general and amended their notes on file to give an impression that they were on board with the changes he was proposing.

Apart from this, the CBI said that a bribe of Rs 200 crores was paid to Kalignar TV by Swan Telecom through companies like Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables, and Cineyug. Klaignar is run by Kanimozhi, daughter of DMK patriarch Karunanidhi.

Enforcement Directorate has charged Raja of using off shore accounts in Seychelles and Indonesia to invest the kickbacks he received in the deal.

Raja and other accused in the case, if found guilty, could spend a life term behind bars since CBI has also slapped Section 409 of the IPC- criminal breach of trust - which is punishable by life in jail.​
| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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