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.

2G: Shahid Balwa wants to depose as witness

Shahid BalwaSwan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, one of the accused in the 2G spectrum allocation case, today told a Delhi court that he wanted to depose as a witness to defend himself in the ongoing trial. Balwa’s counsel Vijay Aggarwal told Special CBI Judge O P Saini that his client wished to depose as a witness in the case in which the court is scheduled to commence the recording of statements of defence witnesses from July 1.

“He (Shahid Balwa) wants to examine himself,” Aggarwal told the court after which the judge asked CBI whether it has any objection to it.

CBI’s prosecutor K K Goel replied “this is his (Balwa’s) right.” Balwa’s counsel initially told the court that he wanted to bring six witnesses in his defence but later he said he would be one of them.

“Defence is my right. They (CBI) have produced 153 witnesses and I am only seeking to summon 5-6 witnesses in my defence,” he said.

He also said co-accused, Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, who are Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd, were seeking permission to examine a total of five witnesses only in their defence in the case.

Regarding ex-Telecom Minister A Raja’s erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, also an accused in the case, Aggarwal told the court that he was only summoning some documents in his defence.

The court, after hearing the arguments, reserved its order for tomorrow on the issue of calling defence witnesses and documents as sought by these accused.

The court had earlier allowed Raja’s plea seeking to depose as a witness to defend himself in the ongoing trial. The court had also allowed the pleas filed by former Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra, Reliance ADAG executives Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair, Bollywood producer Karim Morani, Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar and accused firm Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd seeking to summon some witnesses in their defence in the case.

Besides these accused, Kanimozhi, Reliance ADAG executive Gautam Doshi, Swan Telecom promoter Vinod Goenka, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd had said they do not wish to lead any evidence in their defence.

Besides these 14 accused, three telecom firms Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd are also facing trial in the case.

The court had on October 22, 2011 framed charges against them under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, faking documents, abusing official position, criminal misconduct by public servant and taking bribe. The offences entail punishment ranging from six months in jail to life imprisonment.

(Source: PTI)

2G: Balwa seeks withdrawal of statement from court

Shahid Usman Balwa 2GSwan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa today moved a special court seeking its permission to withdraw the answers given by him earlier in response to the court’s query in the ongoing trial in 2G spectrum allocation case.

Balwa, who had on May 10 faced court’s ire which had said that he “deserved” to be taken in custody for his misconduct, filed a plea before Special CBI Judge O P Saini contending he will “not raise any question of prejudice caused to him on the ground of non-understanding of any questions” asked by the court. The 2G case accused also requested the court to take on record the written answers afresh.

He said that during recording of his statement, which was deferred by the judge, all the questions were “explained properly” by the court and due to “some inadvertence” it was recorded in some questions that he was not able to understand some of the queries. “This was a bonafide mistake and the same was neither intentional nor deliberate but only due to an inadvertent error of recording the answers on the court’s computer,” he said.

CBI, however, sought some time to file its reply after which the court fixed the matter for May 16. In his plea, Balwa said that he had understood the court’s queries and he required no further clarification on it. The judge had earlier said that Balwa had “embarrassed” him a lot due to his conduct and if he has not understood the question, then why he has given answers of the questions which were asked by the court during recording of his statement.

“It is an exercise to trap the court,” the judge had said, adding, “Be ready to go to jail.” Special public prosecutor U U Lalit had told the court that Balwa’s contention that he did not understand questions asked by the court under the provisions of the CrPC was only to take advantage in future.

(Source: PTI)

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.

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.

Kanimozhi’s bail plea verdict on May 20

In temporary relief for the politically battered first family of Tamil Nadu, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court Saturday deferred till May 20 its verdict on the bail plea of DMK MP Kanimozhi and Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar in connection with their alleged involved in the spectrum case.

CBI Special Judge O.P. Saini, after seeing the crowd in the jampacked court room, said: “The court will pronounce its verdict on the bail plea of the duo on May 20.”

The court had reserved the order on their bail application May 6.

Kanimozhi was accompanied by her mother Rajathi Ammal and her husband Aravindan to mark her presence before the Judge Saini. DMK parliamentarian T.R. Balu was also present.

The CBI had named Kanimozhi, daughter of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi who suffered a rout in the assembly elections, and Sharad Kumar as co-conspirators in its April 25 supplementary chargesheet after it traced an illegal money trail of Rs.214 crore.

Asif Balwa and Rajiv B. Agarwal of Kusegaon Realty, also named as co-conspirator in the case, were also present in the court room.

The fifth co-conspirator, Cineyug Film’s Karim Morani was not present as he got exemption from personal appearance due to his ill health. However, he will have to appear before the court May 18.

The money trail allegedly moved from Dynamix to Kusegaon and then on to Cineyug — all part of the DB Group that promoted Swan Telecom – ending with the Karunanidhi family-run Kalaignar TV. The channel had earlier stated that the Rs.214 crore was a loan and paid back with interest.

DMK MP A. Raja has been accused of allowing the sale of spectrum licenses to telecom companies at low prices in 2008 when he was communications minister, allegedly causing huge losses to the exchequer. He is in jail.

Raja, his aide R.K. Chandolia, former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa were present in the court room. They are charged with conspiring to sell 2G spectrum waves to select companies at rock bottom prices.

Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom, Sanjay Chandra of Unitech and two officials of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group – Gautam Doshi and Hari Nair and – who were also named in the chargesheet were present in the court room.

Surendra Pipara of Reliance, who is in judicial custody, was not produced in the court room as he is undergoing treatment for a heart problem.

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 files chargesheet in 2G spectrum case

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday filed its first chargesheet in the 2G spectrum scam . The chargesheet was filed in the special court of CBI judge O.P. Saini. Former Telecom minister A Raja has been charged with criminal conspiracy, forgery, cheating and corruption.

Raja’s private secretary R K Chandolia, former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa have also been chargesheeted. Other corporate honchos chargesheeted in the case are Swan Telecom director Vinod Goenka, Director Unitech Wireless Sanjay Chandra.

Nine persons and three companies have been chargesheeted under various provisions of IPC including cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

CBI sources, however, said the extent of loss to the state exchequer may not be included in this chargesheet as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was yet to complete the process of ascertaining the loss on allocation of spectrum to all operators between 2001 and 2008.

The CBI had last year informed the apex court that it would be filing the first set of charge sheet by March 31 which will include the investigations made by the agency as well as by the Enforcement Directorate in the case. But it sought two more days time in the light of some new developments.