Former Telecom Minister A Raja today told a special courtthat he had informed then Prime Minister Manmohan Singhabout the Law Ministry’s opinion to refer the matter of processing of applications seeking 2G spectrum to an empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM).
Opposing CBI’s allegations that he had misled the Prime Minister and incorrectly stated that the opinion of Law Ministry to refer the matter to EGoM was out of context, Raja argued that Manmohan Singh did not feel the need to refer the matter to the EGoM and the issue rested there.
“I had conveyed to the Prime Minister about it. I left it to the Prime Minister to decide on the issue. I had told him what the Law Ministry was saying and what was the view of DoT on it. The Prime Minister was empowered to constitute an EGoM,” Raja’s counsel Manu Sharma told Special CBI Judge O P Saini during the final arguments in the 2G spectrum case.
Maintaining that it was not his view that the Law Ministry’s opinion was “out of context”, he said this was the Department of Telecommunications’s (DoT) view which was arrived at after due consultation with its Member (Technology) and Deputy Director General (AS).
Referring to the letters written by Raja to the Prime Minister, his counsel said he had informed Manmohan Singh about everything that was happening on the issue.
“As I had informed the Prime Minister about everything, including the suggestions of the Law Ministry and the DoT’s view on it, the ball was in the Prime Minister’s court,” the lawyer said.
He further argued that DoT was of the view that the issue of processing of applications cannot go to EGoM in any manner.
“The Law Minister had said that in view of the importance of the issue, the matter be referred to the EGoM. I say there was no reason to refer the matter of processing of applications to the EGoM,” he said.
“Three letters were written by Raja to the Prime Minister and the final letter written by Raja in which he had given the entire details was vetted and studied in depth by then senior PMO official, Pulok Chatterji. The Prime Minister had said it was okay. Had it not been okay, the things would have been different,” the counsel said during the final arguments, which would continue tomorrow.
During the arguments, Raja’s counsel contended that it
was not the CBI’s case that the then Telecom Minister had tried to influence any DoT official when the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had asked certain queries from the department while conducting the audit.
“CAG had sought response from the DoT on various issues. It is nobody’s case that I had influenced anyone in DoT to draft the reply to the queries in a particular fashion,” he said.
He also claimed that in 2005-06, DoT “used to sleep over the files for years” and this was done only to benefit the existing telecom operators.
Raja had earlier told the court that all decisions taken by him regarding 2G spectrum allocation were “unanimous” and he had shared the details with the then Prime Minister and other cabinet colleagues at all crucial stages.
CBI had earlier alleged 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, 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, DMK MP 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.
( Source – PTI )