New Delhi: Former telecom secretary Siddharath Behura on Tuesday accused prosecution witness and Attorney General GE Vahanvati of making a false statement and said Vahanvati deposed against him to disassociate himself from any involvement in formulation of the 'first-come-first-serve' policy. Behura told a court that he had no financial or professional benefit from former communications minister A Raja and "had neither met nor known" Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka and Unitech managing director Sanjay Chandra, who are also accused in the case.
Raja, facing trial in the 2G allocation case, was handed over 1,700 questions running into 824 pages March 27 by the court. The questions are part of the recording of the Raja's statement. Behura told Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge OP Saini that then solicitor general Vahanvati's "main concern was to disassociate himself from any involvement in formulation of the revised first come first serve (FCFS) policy".
According to the government auditor, Raja was biased while distributing 2G mobile airwaves and operating licences to telecom firms, causing a loss of up to Rs.1.76 lakh crore in revenue to the treasury. Behura was then telecom secretary.
"In his evidence, the solicitor general, therefore, has made a false statement that I made a telephonic call to him asking him if there was any stay and also asked him to confirm the same in writing, to which he agreed and thereafter I went to see him along with the file," Behura told the court. He accused other witnesses, including A.K. Srivastava, of deposing falsely, saying: "The simplest way to absolve themselves (witnesses) of any wrongdoing was to shift the responsibility for their action to the secretary of the department, that is me, in order to implicate me in a manner desired by the prosecution."
The CBI had raided Srivastava's residence in connection with the case and seized a number of documents relating to his assets which were returned to him only after his evidence was over in court. Srivastava, as a senior telecom officer at that time. was responsible for policy issue and implementation thereof relating to the grant of Unified Access Services (UAS) licence.
"Strangely, others who were associated with the decision making process have been cited as witnesses to depose against me, while I have been arraigned as an accused in this case," Behura said. He informed the court that he was falsely implicated as he was secretary in the telecom department at the time when the policy decisions - which were approved prior to his appointment - were implemented.
"Indeed, the DoT had already started processing the files according to the approved policy decisions before I joined," Behura said in his defence. He accused the prosecution of showing "utter lack of understanding of government functioning, of rules of procedures and rules of business," and said: "Had the same been applied, I would not have been made an accused."