2G spectrum probe: Arun Shourie to appear before CBI on Feb

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Old 14-Feb-2011
Saini Sa'aB
2G spectrum probe: Arun Shourie to appear before CBI on Feb

New Delhi: BJP leader and former Telecom Minister Arun Shourie will appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on February 21 in connection with its probe into the 2G spectrum scam. He has offered to explain to the agency all that he knows about the spectrum allocation case.

Shourie has claimed that he had told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the scam in 2009 but got no response. He also said he had introduced the informant, the man who had the details of the undue favours given to various firms, to the CBI but the agency gave no response. According to Shourie, the CBI said it needed the PM's nod to act against the then Telecom Minister A Raja.

Shourie, who was the Telecom Minister in the NDA regime, has slammed the Justice Shivraj Patil report on the 2G spectrum, following which a war of words has broken out between him and the current Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal. Shourie called the report "a command performance from Kapil Sibal in order to protect Raja." Sibal shot back at Shourie and asked him to substantiate his allegations. "What Shourie says, he must prove", Sibal told NDTV.

The Justice Patil report, which NDTV has access to, states that telecom rules were tweaked to help Tata Teleservices during the NDA regime. It also details how, it says, Swan Telecom benefited during A Raja's tenure as Telecom Minister.

The report says that two major policy shifts were seen - one during the NDA regime and the other during UPA rule.

The judge notes that during the NDA rule, the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) - headed by Pradeep Baijal - recommended on October 27, 2003, that all new telecom players be given licences through a process of multistage bidding or auction. Four days later, the TRAI recommendations were approved by the NDA cabinet.

However, the report says, this procedure was not followed. It states that after a phone call between Baijal and then Telecom Secretary Vinod Baish on November 17, 2003, a first-come-first-serve procedure was adopted to allocate new licences. The Justice Patil report states that the company that benefited from this was Tata Teleservices.

Arun Shourie was the Telecom Minister in the NDA regime during the period that the Patil report mentions.

Shourie said, "Such a fabrication and such a command performance brings the judiciary into disrepute and this is an unheard of procedure that you handpick a judge and he decides not to examine anybody and he decides to go by the documents handed over to him by a department led by an advocate called Kapil Sibal who is fabricating a case in defence of Raja."

The Patil report also states in detail how officials in the Department of Telecom (DoT), during the UPA regime, had raised questions about equity holdings of Shahid Balwa's Swan Telecom in January 2008. The officials questioned whether the company fulfilled the eligibility criteria to get a telecom licence.

These objections were, however, overruled by Siddharth Behura - who was the then Telecom Secretary and who was arrested last week along with A Raja - and the file was put before the minister, the report states. The minister then approved the application of Swan Telecom, it says. The report does not name A Raja, but he was the Telecom Minister then.

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