Former Telecom Secretary DS Mathur on Monday told a Delhi court that Tatas had applied for GSM technology after the cut-off date for receipt of applications for the 2G licenses, while he favoured examining all applications chronologically.
Testifying as a prosecution witness, Mathur said he had ‘desired’ that all the applications received by the Department of Telecom (DoT) for grant of Unified Access Services Licences (UASL) should be considered in chronological order.
Vouching for the principle of examining applications in chronological order, Mathur told Special CBI Judge OP Saini, “It is correct that I desired the applications be considered in chronological order as they were received.”
Referring to Tatas’ applications for dual technology licence, Mathur said, “It is correct that these two applications (of Tata Teleservices Ltd and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd) were received after the receipt of new applications were stopped on October 1, 2007.”
“(But), it is incorrect that my view was that these two applications be considered only after the other applications have been considered,” he said, clarifying that any telecom operator, “who applies for dual technology licence, has an advantage in grant of spectrum because he gets spectrum as an existing licencee.”
During his cross-examination by senior counsel Sushil Kumar, who appeared for former Telecom Minister A Raja, Mathur said Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTSL) and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd (TTML) had written two letters to him for “in-principle approval for dual technology” and it was received by the DoT on October 22, 2007.
Mathur, who was the telecom secretary from July 2006 to December 2007, said TTSL and TTML were asking for the GSM technology and on October 23, 2007, no other application apart from those of the Tatas were pending for GSM technology.
Mathur, whose cross examination would continue on April 17, told the court till the cut-off date of October 1, 2007, a total of 575 applications for grant of UASL were received by the DoT.
He said the DoT’s decision to award Letters of Intent (LoIs) to the telecom firms whose applications were received by the department up to September 25, 2007 was taken by Raja.
“It is correct that the decision by the DoT to award LoIs to the applicants whose applications were received upto September 25, 2007 was taken by the minister (Raja) on November 2, 2007. I do not know the background in which the minister had taken this decision of November 2, 2007,” he said.
The CBI had alleged that Raja, in collusion with others, had decided to keep September 25, 2007 as the cut-off date for considering applications for UASL to “wrongly benefit” Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra and Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka — all facing trial in the case.
Mathur had earlier said that Raja had decided to prepone the cut-off date to September 25, 2007 without having any “reasonable justification.”