CBI raising unnecessary hue and cry over Tata: Behura

Former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura, in jail for his alleged connection to the 2G spectrum scam, Thursday accused the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of raising an unnecessary ‘hue and cry’ over the Tata group being refused a 2G licence initially.

The CBI had alleged that Tata, which applied for the licence March 4, 2008, had been eliminated in an unfair manner but the group had already admitted that they were late in filing the application. ‘Then why is the CBI accusing Behura?’ the former telecom secretary’s lawyer Aman Lekhi asked in the special CBI court.

‘I don’t understand why there is a hue and cry about Tata. Are they above law and different from other bidders? Does it not amount to corruption?’ Lekhi, speaking on Behura’s behalf, added.

He said it was deputy director general of telecom A.K. Srivastava who had supervised all the operations undertaken in issuing the licenses.

‘It was Srivastava who wrote a letter on Dec 26, 2007, mentioning the policy directive and saying that this would be treated as the final decision… It is on the record,’ said Lekhi.

‘How can Behura be accused of conspiracy? How does this appeal to common sense?’The lawyer also argued that it was the responsibility of the Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing of the telecom department to distribute the licenses and that Behura had no role to play in it.

‘Each ministry works with different departments and every department has its own set of responsibilities… How can he (Behura) be blamed for favouring Swan telecom when he had no role to play?’ asked Lekhi.

Behura had Wednesday said the government was responsible for the 2G ‘mess’.That statement came a day after jailed former communications minister A. Raja dragged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and then finance minister and present Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

Behura was arrested Feb 2 for alleged involvement in the 2G scam. In the chargesheet filed April 2, he was accused of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and criminal misconduct by a public servant.

50 percent women married as minors: Experts

Nearly 50 percent of marriages in India involve minors – children under the age of 18 years, thanks to the poor implementation of the law, experts said Monday.

‘The consequence of child marriage is in conflict with the development aspirations of the country,’ Ranjana Kumari, president of the WomenPowerConnect (WPC), said at a national workshop on gender inequalities.

She was referring to the National Family Health Survey 3, which has reported that 45 percent women aged 20-24 years were already married before the age of 18 years.

‘It (child marriage) perpetuates health problems, marital violence, poverty and economic inequality, lack of education and awareness, lack of reproductive choice and access to measures of fertility management,’ she stressed.

‘It is important to know that the high economic growth that we are boasting about is not directly leading to better social development due to practices like child marriage, domestic violence and female foeticide still plaguing our country,’ added Kumari.

According to National Family Health Survey 3, the median age at first marriage for women between the age 25 -49 years was 16.8 years, while that for men in the same age group was 22.7 years.

The seminar highlighted ways to improve implementation of Prohibition of Child marriage Act (PCMA) 2006, domestic violence act and the need to ensure passage of women’s reservation bill.

Under the law, a child or minor is a person up to 18 years in the case of girls and 21 years in the case of boys.