Telecom scam:CBI chided for not naming firms’ execs

Delhi High court has grilled the CBI for only “blaming” government servants and not naming any company officials in connection with the charge sheet against Airtel, Vodafone and others for alleged irregularities in the allocation of additional spectrum to them during the NDA regime

“In a conspiracy, there must be two parties. You (CBI)are blaming only the government servants. Why not the private persons? Who did the conspiracy with the government servants?” special CBI judge OP Saini asked.

On being quizzed by the judge, CBI prosecutor KK Goyal said they had tried their best to find out if any company officials were part of the conspiracy but they could not find anybody’s name.

“We could not find out anybody’s name. We tried to find out who are the persons who instigated this but we could not find out. We tried our best,” the prosecutor said.

The court, after hearing CBI’s arguments, reserved its order for March 19 on the issue of taking cognisance of the charge sheet.

During the hearing, CBI told the court that no resolution was passed by these companies for applying for additional spectrum.

The court had earlier directed the CBI to place before it documents relating to resolution passed by the three firms, including Airtel and Vodafone, for seeking additional spectrum during the NDA regime.

The CBI had on December 21 last year filed a charge sheet in which former telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms – Bharti Cellular Ltd, Hutchison Max Pvt Ltd (now known as Vodafone India Ltd) and Sterling Cellular Ltd (now known as Vodafone Mobile Service Ltd) – have been named as accused.

In the 57-page charge sheet, the CBI has booked all the accused for the offences of criminal conspiracy (120-B) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The court had earlier granted over two weeks additional time to CBI to submit documents sought from it in the case.

The court had told the CBI that these telecom firms must have approached the government first for seeking additional spectrum and they must have also passed a resolution in this regard.

It had also told CBI that the case is about the pricing dispute over additional spectrum and the agency should file the documents relating to passing of any such resolution by these companies.

The CBI, in its charge sheet, has named the three telecom companies as accused in the case in which DoT had allegedly allocated additional spectrum resulting in a loss of Rs. 846 crore to the exchequer.

The CBI has not named Jagdish Rai Gupta, a former deputy director general (VAS) cell of DoT and a former director of BSNL, who figured in the FIR, as accused in the case saying “no evidence attributing any criminality on his part or his involvement in the alleged offence has surfaced during the investigation.”

Regarding Ghosh, the CBI had said that in conspiracy with the then telecom minister Pramod Mahajan and the accused telecom firms, he abused his official position to show undue favour to the firms causing a loss of Rs. 846.44 crore to the exchequer.

The CBI, in its charge sheet, had said that the decision regarding allocation of additional spectrum to these telecom firms was taken in “undue haste” in pursuance of the conspiracy hatched by Mahajan, Ghosh and these companies.

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