New Delhi: Former telecom minister A. Raja, who was at the centre of the allegations in India’s biggest graft case, on Thursday said a trial court acquitting him of all charges proved that the presumptive loss in allocation of 2G spectrum was “cooked-up”.
Mr Raja, who was the minister in the Congress-led UPA government when 122 telecom spectrum licences were issued to 8 companies in 2008 on first-come-first-serve basis, said his actions were for the benefit of masses.
Bringing competition in the telecom sector had sent mobile call charges to rock-bottom levels. “My firm belief in the rightfulness of my actions as well as my faith in our nation’s justice system has been validated today,” he said in a statement.
He said his decision for allocation of spectrum were in line with the National Telecom Policy and recommendations.
When Supreme Court found licences flawed
Delivering a body blow to the government, the Supreme Court had on February 12, 2012, cancelled 122 2G licences granted during the tenure of former communications minister A. Raja. The court declared the grant of licences “illegal” and blamed the government for its “flawed first-come-first-served policy”.
A two-judge bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly had allowed the impugned licences to run for four months, after which the cancellation order becomes operative.
The order was issued on a plea filed by CPIL, an NGO, and Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy alleging a scam in spectrum allocations by Mr Raja in January 2008 during the first UPA government.
The Comptroller and Auditor-General had calculated a presumptive loss to the exchequer of up to Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
The court imposed a penalty of Rs 5 crore on Etisalat DB Telecom (Swan Telecom), Unitech Wireless Group and Tata Teleservices. It also ordered Loop Telecom, S-Tel, Allianz Infratech and Sistema Shyam TeleServices to pay costs of Rs 50 lakh each.
Criticising Trai’s role, the Supreme Court said that the Trai’s recommendations became a “handle” for Mr Raja to “gift” an “important national asset at throwaway prices”.
Stating that the spectrums had not only been considered “scarce” in a developing country such as India, but also in developed nations, the court said the basic flaw in the policy was that it was prone to “manipulation”. The bench of justices, which scrapped 122 2G spectrum licences allocated during the tenure of former telecom minister A. Raja, said any person with “access to power corridors” can be benefited by knowing in advance about a contract.
Favouring an overhaul of the FCFS policy, the bench called for allocation of spectrum through auctions only saying it would impart transparency....