Shourie summoned by CBI in 2G probe
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has called senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Shourie, who was communications minister during the NDA rule, to seek information from him on the 2G spectrum allocation scam, an official said yesterday.
"Shourie will appear before the CBI February 21," the official told IANS, adding that he was not summoned but the agency is seeking his "cooperation" in connection with the probe into the scandal — billed as one of the biggest corruption cases in the country.
The official said the former minister would be asked questions about the first-come-first-served basis for giving licences that was initiated by the then cabinet led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2001.
The CBI has approached Shourie asking him to appear before it for the agency's preliminary investigation into the Universal Access Service Licence (UASL) regime. The agency, according to the official, wants to study the minutes of the meetings held by former telecom ministers, including late Pramod Mahajan, Shourie and Dayanidhi Maran.
According to the CBI, nearly 50 licences were given out on the first-come-first-served basis and Bharti, Vodafone and Idea were among the beneficiaries of the policy.
The CBI call to Shourie comes after a Supreme Court direction asking the agency to widen its investigation and inquire how the telecom licences were issued by both the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government from 2001 to 2007.
Shourie on Thursday said he had "apprised [Prime Minister] Manmohan Singh and subsequently alerted the CBI" about the 2G spectrum corruption under former minister A. Raja who was forced to quit in November last over the scam. The BJP leader also claimed that he even introduced a whistleblower to the CBI. Shourie said he "had asked the PM in 2009 if he could meet his principal secretary T.K.A. Nair to give the details".
The 2G spectrum allotment in 2008 under minister A. Raja, now in CBI custody, has triggered a major controversy. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India, in its report submitted to parliament in November, put the national loss to the public exchequer at as high as Rs1.76 trillion .