Raja favoured Swan Telecom in getting licence: CBI

a rajaThe CBI on Monday told a special court here that the 2G spectrum allocation policy was manipulated to favour certain entities including Swan Telecom.

Special public prosecutor Anand Grover told Special Judge O.P. Saini that in an arbitrary decision, then telecom minister A. Raja gave unfair advantage to Swan Telecom.

Advancing the final argument in the case, Grover said the cut-off date for receiving applications was changed from October 10, 2007 to October 1, 2007, and the decision was taken by Raja to favour some firms.

Swan telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, one of the accused in the 2G scam, had prior knowledge of the design of the spectrum allocation process and had kept the demand drafts and other documents ready before hand, the Central Bureau of Investigation said.

The court was hearing the final arguments in the case which will continue on Thursday.

The case pertains to the 2G spectrum allocation in which Raja, DMK Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi and others are facing trial.

According to the CBI, Raja was biased in allocating 2G mobile airwaves and operating licences to telecom firms, causing huge loss to the state exchequer.

The court framed charges on October 22, 2011, against 14 accused and three companies under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

All the accused, including Raja, are out on bail.

Raja, 11 others formally charged in 2G spectrum case

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Saturday filed its first chargesheet of 127 pages with 80,000-page annexure against nine people and three firms in the case involving the allocation of second generation (2G) telecom spectrum.

The chargesheet, brought in seven steel boxes, was filed in the special court of CBI Judge O.P. Saini.

Among those named are former communications minister A. Raja, his personal aide R.K. Chandolia, former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura, Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa, director Vinod Goenka and Unitech Wireless director Sanjay Chandra.

Raja has been accused on several counts.

Three officials from the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group — Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara — as also three companies, Unitech, Reliance and Swan telecom, were also named as accused in the allocation of spectrum.

Among the individuals, four are already in judicial custody. The court issued summons to the others asking them to appear before it by April 13.

The three officials of the Anil Ambani Group were named in the chargesheet for allegedly concealing the in-eligibility of Swan Telecom for the grant of spectrum, said one of the investigative officers in the case.

Unitech, too, the chargesheet alleged was ineligible as the company did not have the necessary amendment in its memorandum and articles of association to enter the telecom business.

“The public is reminded the above findings are based on the investigation done by CBI and evidence collected by it,” the probe agency said. “Under the Indian law, the accused are presumed to be innocent till their guilt is finally established after a fair trial.”

The accused have been chargesheeted under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, including cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy.

“We have 125 witnesses on whose information the agency has attached 654 documents to the chargesheet in the case,” said a CBI official.

“In the entire episode, the government incurred a loss of Rs.30,984 crore. Swan and Unitech telecom were the two companies totally ineligible for the licence allocation,” the official added.

“We are also investigating Kaliagnar TV, Asif Balwa and Rajiv Aggarwal, who are the directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables, and Cineyug and Green House promoters,” said senior public prosecutor specially called from Guwahati, A.K. Singh.

“They are likely to be named in the supplementary chargesheet that will be submitted by end-April,” Singh said, adding, the name of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Private Ltd has since changed to Kusegaon Realty.

Regarding Raja’s close associate Sadiq Batcha, who was found dead under mysterious ciscumstances at his Chennai home last month, the probe agency said that they were tracing the alleged kick-backs in the scam that could have been routed through him.

CBI to probe Raja associate’s death

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will investigate the alleged suicide of Sadiq Batcha, a close associate of former telecom minister Andimuthu Raja now in jail in the 2G spectrum scam.

A Supreme Court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly was told by CBI senior counsel K.K. Venugopal that a request for a CBI probe has been received from the Tamil Nadu government and the agency will take up the probe.

However, the CBI will probe the case only after a notification is issued by the central government.

The court has asked Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh to inform it by Monday about the time the central government would require for issuing the notification for the CBI probe in Batcha’s death.

Batcha, a businessman close to disgraced former minister Raja, was found hanging at his Chennai home March 16. Batcha was not directly linked with the 2G spectrum scam but was being probed for the money trail in the multi-billion rupee scandal.

In a related matter, the CBI suggested the name of senior counsel Uday Lalit as the special public prosecutor to lead the prosecution case in 2G scam case before the special court of Additional Sessions Judge O.P. Saini.

Jaising will also inform the court Tuesday as to when the central government will issue notification appointing Lalit in the 2G spectrum scam case.

Top law official suspended, Raja denies wrongdoing

The Madras High Court Tuesday ordered the suspension of the Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry Bar Council chairman on charges of trying to influence a judge in a case linked to former central minister A. Raja, who has denied any wrongdoing.

A division bench of Justice F.M. Ibrahim Khalifulla and Justice M.M. Sundaresh ordered the immediate suspension of R.K. Chandramohan from his Bar Council post.

They were hearing a petition of G. Rajendran, praying for initiating contempt of court proceedings against Chandramohan, who has been accused of trying to influence Justice R. Raghupathy last year.

The judge was hearing the bail application of C. Krishnamurthy and Kriba Shridhar, who were accused of forging marksheets.

The bench Tuesday also said that Chandramohan should not be allowed to function as chairman pending disciplinary action against him by the Bar Council of India.

Last year, Justice Reghupathy sensationally declared in an open court that a central minister had tried to influence him to grant bail to the two men.

The men were being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The judge had threatened to complain to the central government and the prime minister about the union minister’s interference but did not name the minister.

Shridhar, who was failing in his exams for the past two years, joined hands with his father and allegedly changed his answer-sheet to get extra marks in the subject. Later, the CBI found the father-son duo to be involved in forging marksheets.

Detailing the incident, Justice Reghupathy wrote to then Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan that Chandramohan came to him on June 12, 2009, around 2 p.m.

After a brief chat, Chandramohan spoke about the bail petition of two of his clients who he said were close to DMK leader and then central minister Raja, who is now embroiled in the G2 spectrum row.

The judge said Chandramohan handed over his mobile telephone saying a central minister wanted to talk to him.

“Right away I discouraged such conduct of Chandramohan and told him that the case would be disposed of in accordance with the law if listed before me,” the letter said.

Raja denied that he ever tried to influence any judge. “I am a man of integrity,” he told TimesNow television channel.

AIADMK General Secretary J.Jayalalithaa had earlier said it was Raja who had tried to influence Justice Reghupathy.

“Though the honourable judge refrained from naming the union minister, it does not require any super-human intelligence to conclude that it was none other than the telecom scam-tainted Raja,” she said last July.

She noted that this was the first time in India that a sitting high court judge had accused a union minister of threatening him.

Supreme Court frowns on PM’s silence over Raja

The Supreme Court Tuesday took exception to the 15-month “silence” of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on former MP Subramanian Swamy’s plea seeking sanction to initiate proceedings against then telecom minister A. Raja over the 2G spectrum row.

The prime minister could have said that the material on record was insufficient and declined the sanction, said the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly.

The court referred to the “inaction and silence” of the prime minister.

Swamy submitted an application to the prime minister Nov 29, 2008 seeking permission to initiate proceedings against Raja under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

It was only March 19 this year that Swamy received a reply from the prime minister stating that since the Central Bureau of Investigation was probing the matter, it was premature to decide on his application seeking sanction to proceed against Raja.

The court said that three months may not be sufficient to decide on such an application. But 15 months was too long a period.

Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said that these three months commenced from the date the investigating agency completed its probe and not from the date the application was made.

The court also took exception to the language used in the prime minister’s March 19, 2010 letter to Swamy, particularly the use of the word “premature”.

It could have been said that the material made available by Swamy was not sufficient to arrive at a decision but instead it said that the application was premature, the court said

The court asked on what basis was the application found to be premature.

“His right to ask for sanction is a right under the law given to citizens in democracy. You say that his right is not mature,” the court noted.

For the prime minister to say that it is premature “is troubling us”, the judges observed. “Premature means there is a maturity level or maturity area,” the court said.

Subramaium told the court that after the resignation of Raja Sunday, Swamy needed no sanction to initiate any proceedings against him.

Swamy assailed the prime minister’s March 2010 reply, saying the prime minister was supposed to apply his mind “independently and impartially” on the material placed before him by the applicant in deciding the question of grant of sanction either way.

He said the prime minister could not have ordered a probe by the CBI to get the matter further investigated before deciding on the application for sanction.

Supreme Court issues notice to Raja on 2G allocation

The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to Communications and IT Minister A. Raja in connection with the 2G spectrum scam.

The apex court also slammed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for filing a case against unnamed officials, and said that the investigating agency should have named them.

The petitioner wants the apex court to monitor the CBI probe or set up a Special Investigation Team.

Earlier on September 9, upping the ante against the Centre over the appointment of the former Telecom Secretary, P.J. Thomas, as the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), the Bharatiya Janata Party said it was done to “cover up” the huge financial scam in the allotment of 2G spectrum.

Terming the 2G spectrum allocation to private companies at “throwaway prices” a “maha-Bofors” scam, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said Thomas’s appointment was done to derail the entire investigation into the scam.

Javadekar said that in its note prepared on August 12, 2010, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) – then headed by Thomas – raised a query before the Law Ministry saying that spectrum allocation was a matter of policy, and that the CAG and the CVC had no role to play in the inquiry into it.

“And now the same person [Thomas], who earlier objected to the CVC probing the scam, is heading the organisation…and now no one is expecting a fair inquiry into the entire matter,” Javadekar said.

He said both the DoT and the Law Ministry favoured the note prepared against the role of the CVC and the CAG, which proved that the government purposely appointed Thomas for the cover-up.

“The Congress-led UPA government has undermined institutions like the CAG and CVC on account of the compulsions of coalition politics, the UPA government is under pressure to derail the investigation,” alleged Javadekar.

Pointing out that A. Raja had time and again, in his defence, claimed that he was working under the guidance of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Javadekar said: “He has made the Prime Minister a co-accused in the scam. The formulation of policy at the behest of Raja was consciously and deliberately framed to cause loss to the government and gain to private parties. But still Dr. Singh has been defending the Minister.”

Last month, the Telecom Department headed by Thomas had sought the legal advisor’s opinion on whether the CAG had the authority to challenge policy decisions taken by the government.

The ministry’s legal advisor said neither the CVC nor the CAG had the authority to question the government’s policy decisions