Swan Telecom questions CAG role

Swan Telecom Thursday told a Delhi court that the CAG has “no authority to decide” the correct market value of radio frequency airwaves, a scarce national resource, to operate second generation (2G) mobile phone services.

The company, listed as an accused in the 2G scam, also rubbished the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report on the allocation of airwaves.

“The CAG can recommend the implications of policy but the rest is a matter for the government to decide and not the CAG… it is not an authority to decide the correct market value of 2G,” Swan’s senior counsel Amit Desai told Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special judge O.P. Saini.

He said that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should not act as a “super board”.”It is outside the domain of the CBI to say that what policy should have been in place and if the CAG report is correct or not… the role of the agency is to collect evidence and not to give opinions.”

Desai said that CAG was an auditor and had the power to examine the policy, it could not recommend the rates at which the licences should have been sold.

The blame is that illegal entrants were given licences at rates below the market price. But who is questioning? The government who, according to the CBI case, is the main victim, is not questioning,” he said.

“The CAG is not the government and the government is not only concerned about revenue, it also looks into the social welfare and development of its people… there can’t be a uniform policy in all the sectors, said Desai.

He said that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) approved all the policies.He said that if no amendment in the policy and non-revision of rates was considered to be a criminal conspiracy then even the ex-TRAI chairman Nripendra Misra should be treated as a conspirator.

Misra was the one who recommended retaining the 2001 prices in 2007, whereas in 2006 he recommended auction for third generation (3G) mobile phone services, Desai said.

The TRAI chairman himself said that there was no need to raise the prices of the bands. He approved the policy. In that case, the CBI should also present him before the court, Desai said.

He said that even the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal approved the m policy.

Explaining why the prices of the spectrum were not revised, the counsel said: The purpose of the 2G spectrum was to bring in more competition and the government wanted to give a level playing field to all the new entrants, so the prices were not increased.

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