SC restrains Aircel-Maxis from transferring 2G licences

SC restrains Aircel-Maxis from transferring 2G licences
SC restrains Aircel-Maxis from transferring 2G licences

The Supreme Court today restrained transfer of 2G licences from Malaysia’s Maxis which was originally allotted to Aircel to any other telecom company.

A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar also proposed to restrain earning of any revenue by using the 2G spectrum licences which were originally granted to Aircel in 2006.

The bench also comprising Justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud said that the instant order is being issued to bring to the notice of Malaysian businessman T Ananda Krishnan, the owner of Maxis group, to make his appearance in the apex court.

It said that if Ananda Krishnan and Ralph Marshall of Maxis fail to make appearance in the apex court on Jan 27, the 2G licences granted to Aircel shall be seized.

The bench asked the Telecom Ministry to devise ways and means to avoid adverse consequenses following the order to Aircel subscribers by provisionally transferring 2G licences to others service providers.

“We cannot tolerate a person using the national resource such as spectrum of India and not honouring court notice,” the bench said, adding that Ananda Krishnan cannot evade law.

The apex court directed the Indian govt to publish its instant order in two leading newspapers in Malaysia.

It also directed that in case the proposed order is passed, it would not be open to any of the accused to raise the issue of monetary losses.

The bench posted the material for further hearing on January 27 and said other averments made by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy will be dealt with at later stage.

Swamy has alleged that FIPB clearances to Aircel Maxis were granted illegally.

Special 2G prosecutor Anand Grover said that hearing on framing of charges in the trial court is scheduled on January 9.

( Source – PTI )

SC notice to Unitech MD

supreme courtThe Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear CBI’s plea for cancellation of bail granted to Sanjay Chandra, MD of Unitech Ltd, in 2G case for allegedly trying to “sabotage the trial” and issued notice to him.

A bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi granted two weeks time to Mr. Chandra to file his response on CBI’s petition alleging that he had misused the relief given to him by approaching the then CBI prosecutor A K Singh and trying to “materially interfere” with the prosecution in an “attempt to influence” the conduct and outcome of the trial.

The CBI has sought recall of the apex court’s November 23, 2011 order by which he was granted bail.

It has alleged that conduct of Mr. Chandra was questionable during the period of bail as he was found holding discussion with the prosecutor about crucial witnesses.

“It is apparent the freedom granted to accused by means of enlargement from custody has been misused by him and that allowing him to continue unabated will be detrimental to the conduct of this trial and to the greater public interest,” CBI has said in its application.

His conversation with the prosecutor, who was removed from the case, reflected that the entire strategy of CBI in dealing with the case was compromised, the agency has said.

The CBI said it had registered a Preliminary Enquiry report which named Chandra and prosecutor Singh.

The investigation also suggested that the conversation took place between the two when the statement of crucial witness A K Srivastava, Department of Telecom’s former Deputy Director General (AS) was being recorded in the court, it has said.

The agency has also stated that the CFSL report has also confirmed that the recorded conversation was neither tampered with nor any editing was done and it was the voice of Chandra and Singh.

(Source: IANS)

CBI witness identifies Anil Ambani’s signature in 2G case

On Monday in the 2G spectrum allocation scam a CBI witness, deposing before a special CBI court identified the signature of Reliance ADAG chairman Anil Ambani on the documents attached to the account opening form of AAA Consultancy Services Co. (P) Ltd, allegedly an “associate” firm of Reliance ADAG.

Deposing as a CBI witness, Hasit Shukla, President of Reliance Communications (P) Limited, identified the signatures of Anil Ambani and his wife Tina Ambani on the documents attached to the account opening form of AAA Consultancy Services Co. (P) Ltd.

“I have been shown a photocopy of the account opening form of AAA Consultancy Services Co. (P) Limited for opening current account with ICICI Bank Limited….At page 19 of this document are the photographs of Anil D Ambani and Tina A Ambani with their signatures at points A and B, which I identify.

“I also identify the signatures of Anil D Ambani and Tina Ambani at points A and B on page 13,” Shukla told Special CBI Judge O P Saini.

The CBI, in its charge sheet filed on April 2, 2011, had alleged AAA Consultancy Services Co. (P) Limited was one of the associate companies of Reliance ADAG, whose group firm Reliance Telecom Limited had used Swan Telecom, an ineligible company, as its front to get the costly 2G licences.

Three top executives of Reliance ADAG — Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara — along with Reliance Telecom Ltd, Swan Telecom and its promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka are facing trial in the case.

Shukla told the court that he was the company secretary of Reliance Communications Limited between May, 2005 and May, 2011 and in 2007, he “may have been” the director of about 35-38 companies of Reliance ADAG, including Reliance Innoventures (P) Limited, AAA Communications (P) Limited, AAA Project Ventures (P) Limited, ADAE Ventures (P) Limited and others.

On being shown the minutes of the board meeting of ADAE Ventures (P) Limited held on January 3, 2006, Shukla said the minutes were signed by Tina Ambani as the chairperson.

The recording Shukla’s statement remained inconclusive and would continue on Tuesday.

The CBI, in its charge sheet, had alleged that in January-February 2007, the three top executives of Reliance ADAG “in furtherance of their common intention to cheat the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), structured/created net worth of company Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd out of funds arranged from Reliance Telecom Ltd.”

The company and its officials have denied the allegations leveled by the CBI against them in the court.

Chidambaram overruled officials on 2G : Supreme Court

The Supreme Court was told Wednesday that Home Minister P. Chidambaram, in his earlier capacity of finance minister, overruled officials who favoured an upward revision of the 2G telecom licence fee in 2008.

The officials maintained that either 2G licences should be auctioned or there should be an upward revision in their prices and they should not be allocated in 2008 at 2001 prices, the court was told by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).

“The officials of the finance ministry kept on saying that you cannot give spectrum in 2008 at 2001 prices,” the CPIL told an apex court special bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice K.S.P. Radhakrishnan hearing the 2G case.

The court is hearing pleas by the CPIL and Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking a court-monitored Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into Chidambaram’s role in fixing the 2G spectrum price along with then communications minister A. Raja in 2008.

Arguing for the CPIL, counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that both Chidambaram and Raja knew that the companies being allotted spectrum would use it to earn premium by way of merger and acquisition of these firms.

Bhushan told the court that when this process started taking place, Chidrambram sought to describe it as an infusion of more capital.

The CPIL told the court that department of telecommunications’ (DoT) recommendation to hike the licence fee by 3.5 times too was ignored.

The court asked Bhushan to show that document wherein DoT recommended hiking the prices by 3.5 times.

The judges asked the CBI to submit an updated report on their investigations into 2G scam. The court also wanted to know about the progress made on its probe in other countries including Mauritius and Isle of Man.

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, who appeared for the CBI, told the court that they would required three weeks.

Venugopal told the court that letter rogatory had been sent to several countries but that by itself would not be sufficient and would not evoke a response unless teams were sent to these countries.



Apex court reserves verdict on plea to cancel 2G licences

The Supreme Court Thursday reserved its verdict on a petition for cancellation of 2G licences illegally granted in 2008 after it was told considerations of ‘chaos’ and ‘loss’ of foreign investments if the licences were quashed could not outweigh the concerns over national security.

The posituion was made clear to the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly on its poser after the telecom operators submitted that the cancellation of 2G licences would create chaos in the telecom sector and would adversely affect the foreign direct investment in the country.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy.

The judges referred to the pleadings by the telecom operators that the ‘courts should not interfere in the economic matters of the government’.

Responding to the court’s poser, senior counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that the cancellation of 2G licences will be a ‘setback for those (foreign investors) who think that the resources of this country are for loot and through corruption they can make a quick buck’.

He said there were other ‘investors who don’t venture in Indian market for the fear of corruption’.

Bhushan, who appeared for the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), said that by the cancellation of 2G licences given in 2008 ‘the court will be sending out a message that it will be possible to do an honest business in the country at a future date’.

Dealing with apprehension of chaos sounded by the telecom operators, the senior counsel said all the telecom operators that were provided licences in January 2008 held just 10 percent of the total subscribers’ base.

He said that under the existing mobile portability regime, these subscribers could easily switch over to the other service providers.

Justice Ganguly expressed his apprehensions on the optimism of Bhushan, and said, ‘Unless there is general improvement in governance, sending one signal (by way of judgment) here or there will not work.’

Justice Singhvi said: ‘The change will not come about unless educated and enlightened section of the society decide that they will adopt the path that is honest.’

He said that a ‘vast majority of people are honest and are concerned about corruption’.

Bhushan said: ‘Whether it will lead to transformation or not can be left for the future. But it will certainly tell the manner in which business can be carried out in this country.’

He said that one never knows which is that thing (including a judgment) that will trigger change in the country.

Going into the 2G spectrum scam, Justice Ganguly said: ‘Here it is not done by a private negotiation. Here it is done in a peculiar public way (by the department of telecommunications).’

Petitioner Swamy has sought cancellation of 2G licences granted in January 2008 in an unreasonable and arbitrary manner and the failure of telecom operators in meeting their roll-out obligations.

Concluding his arguments, Swamy said where was the question of chaos or loss? The allocation of 2G licences was patiently ‘unreasonable and arbitrary’ and in public interest and national security these licences should be cancelled.

Attorney General G. Vahanvati told the court that the policy of ‘first come first serve’ was enunciated Jan 21, 2001 in the guidelines in the grant of licence for basic services.

The policy was adopted in 2003. He said this policy was never referred to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

The attorney general told the court that the TRAI said in 2007 that the service providers who are having more spectrum than their usage should be asked to surrender the additional spectrum in a specified timeframe. Hoarding of scarce resource like spectrum should be viewed very seriously and in case of non-vacation, a heavy penalty should be imposed on the service providers.

The court was told that the TRAI chairman issued a letter making a ‘clarification’ that what has been said on excess spectrum with the telecom operators by the TRAI was not a recommendation but is only a conclusion for the analysis that certain beneficiaries of spectrum were not utilising it as envisaged.

The attorney general said this in response to queries by the court asked Wednesday.