CAG report confirms charge against Raja, apex court told

New Delhi, Nov 15 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday was told that the allegation that former telecom minister A. Raja granted 2G spectrum licences in an arbitrary manner to favour certain companies stands vindicated by the final report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly was told that the cut-off date was advanced retrospectively and illegally to award 2G spectrum only to 122 out of 575 applicants.

The court was told that most of those who were awarded licences and 2G spectrum were ineligible.

Appearing for the petitioner Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), senior counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that the licences were allegedly granted on first-come-first-served (FCFS) basis instead of transparent public auction.

The court was told that ‘even the FCFS method was not properly applied as priority was fixed from the date of compliance with the letter of intent (LOI) conditions rather than the date of receipt of applications’.

Referring to the central government’s affidavit filed last Thursday, the senior counsel told the court all the arguments that have been advanced in the affidavit were advanced by the department of telecommunications (DoT) before the CAG and the same were rejected by the audit authority.

He said that the director general audit (post and telegraph) too found fault over the manner in which 2G spectrum licences were issued. The senior counsel said that the CAG has annexed the director general audit’s report in its final report.

Bhushan told the court that 2G spectrum licences in 2008 were granted at the rates of 2001, when the telecom market was in a nascent stage. He told the court that by 2008 the telecom market had become buoyant, there was a huge demand and the prices had increased 10 fold.

The affidavit filed by the CPIL said that the DoT in its affidavit has not addressed the issue of Raja’s conversations with corporate lobbyists Nira Radia and the role played by her in the award of licences and spectrum.

The details of the conversations were given by the directorate of income tax (Investigations) to the Central Bureau of Investigation more than a year back, the affidavit said.

‘The entire 2G spectrum scam is a multi-stage, well thought out, deliberate act where a criminal conspiracy was hatched between private companies/persons and officials of DoT in order to circumvent an open, transparent auction process to favour a chosen few,’ the petitioner said.

The arguments would continue Tuesday with former parliament member Subramanian Swamy making his submission.

Swamy Monday told the court that after the resignation of Raja as telecom minister his petition seeking the court’s directions for grant of sanction under the Prevention of Corruption Act to proceed against Raja has lost its relevance.

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