Govt seeks extension of 2G auction deadline from Supreme court

The EGoM on telecom on Tuesday decided to approach the Supreme Court to seek the extension of August 31 deadline to complete auction of 2G airwaves.

 “Auctioneer has given us schedule… we will approach the Supreme Court to place before them the fact what government has done. Also, place before them that in terms of this schedule, it is not possible to conduct auction by August 31,” telecom ministerKapil Sibal told reporters after EGoM meet.

 After cancelling 122 telecom licences in February, the Supreme Court had asked the government to complete the 2G spectrum auction by August 31 and extended the validity of quashed licences till September 7.

 The 2G spectrum auction is crucial for companies such as Sistema Shyam, Uninor and Videocon to win the auction for being able to continue the operations.

 Sibal said the government will file an interim application before the court and request it to consider the facts as stated in the application. “As you know licences have been extended till September 7. So we will go back to the Supreme Court with interim application and request to consider the fact as stated in the application,” Sibal said.

 On Monday, the department of telecom had selected Times Internet Ltd (TIL) as auctioneer to operate the process.

 The EGoM, headed by P Chidambaram, discussed the schedule which DoT has prepared in consultation with TIL.

 The next step for DoT will be to issue Information Memorandum (IM) which is the final document that will carry complete details on auction of spectrum.

Source: PTI

Chidambaram favoured 2G auction, CBI tells Supreme court

The CBI on Thursday strongly defended home minister P Chidambaram, saying that the finance ministry under him had consistently favoured “auction and indexisation” of 2G spectrum price.

An apex court bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice AK Ganguly was told that the “finance ministry took a consistent stand and never deviated from its position of auction and indexisation of 2G spectrum price (from 2001 top 2008)”.

Defending Chidambaram on the allegation of not taking a call on the cancellation of 2G licences, CBI senior counsel KK Venugopal told the court: “It is not an easy matter to decide. It can’t lead to criminality. It has to be decided by the government taking into account the litigation. It is not easy.”

Venugopal was opposing a Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) plea seeking direction to designate the CBI as a special investigation team (SIT) and its probe be monitored and supervised by two independent experts on a day-to-day basis.

“It is easy to attack the (then) finance minister (Chidambaram) as it is politically convenient and makes headlines,” Venugopal told the court.

The court was told that after the meeting of the telecom commission, which was to decide on 2G spectrum pricing, was postponed from Jan 9, 2008, to Jan 15, 2008, former communications minister A Raja jumped the gun and issued 122 letters of intent for 2G licences Jan 10, 2008, it was no longer feasible to press for fixing the price of spectrum that was already embedded with 122 2G licences.

“Thereafter our focus shifted (to the point) that (in future) the financial interests of the government were no longer compromised,” Venugopal told the court.

Opposing the CPIL plea for an outside monitoring of its investigation, Venugopal told the court that CBI probe so far had “clearly demonstrated that the CBI is independent of any control of the government”.

Venugopal said that “a minister (Raja) of a coalition partner and the daughter (Kanimozhi) of (the then) chief minister (M. Karunanidhi) were arrested and were presently in jail, a former minister had to resign and another very big player about whom decision would be taken very soon.”

He said the agency was carrying out its investigation independently without brooking any interference.

“According to me a very high profile case in the history of the country was being investigated by the (CBI) team day and night in order to show the progress made by it in the status report on every hearing of the case,” Venugopal said.

The case would come up for further hearing Oct 10.

2G auction in continuity with NDA policy: Raja

Defending his role in the allocation of 2G spectrum, former communications minister A. Raja Monday said the decision to auction the scarce radio frequency was a continuity of the policy of the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

“I have only implemented what I have inherited. Dayanidhi Maran (communications minister from 2004-07) resigned, so I became the minister,” Raja’s counsel Sushil Kumar said before special CBI judge O.P. Saini.

The CBI Saturday concluded its arguments on the framing of charges in the 2G phone spectrum case, charging the 14 accused and three companies of causing a loss of 30,984 crore to the exchequer by selling the scarce resource, also called radio frequency that helps carry telecom signals, to private players cheap.

The accused also include former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura and Raja’s personal aide R.K. Chandolia, DMK MP Kanimozhi, Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar, Cineyug’s Karim Morani, Swan Telecom’s Shahid Usman Balwa, his cousin Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal, who are directors of Kusegaon, and Unitech Wireless’ Sanjay Chandra.

The other accused are Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara of Reliance Group, and Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom. In addition, the three companies are DB Realty, Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireles.