New Delhi: CBI has recorded the statement of senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Jaswant Singh in connection with the 2G spectrum allocation case as the agency is studying some more points raised by the one-man commission which went into distribution of the air waves.

Official sources said here on Monday that Singh was questioned recently and his statement was recorded in the capacity of the chairman of Group of Ministers in 2003 on Telecom matters. The GoM was constituted to look into various issues including allocation of spectrum.

The sources said Singh, who had served as Union Minister in External Affairs and Finance ministries, shared whatever knowledge he had about the policy of First-Come-First Serve
(FCFS) basis.

CBI has registered three cases in 2G scam during the tenure of three former Telecom Ministers - A Raja (2007-2010), Dhayanidhi Maran (2004-07) and late Pramod Mahajan (2001-03).

CBI is looking at the observations made by the one-man commission of Justice Shivraj Patil from January 29, 2003, to May 2004, when Arun Shourie was the Minister of Information
Technology, the sources said.

Retired Justice Shivraj V Patil report went into the telecom procedures followed for allocation and assignment of 2G spectrum during 2001 till 2009 and submitted its report in
February this year.

The report had alleged new telecom licenses were issued in 2003 on first-come-first-serve (FCFS) basis at 2001 prices without any guideline overlooking telecom regulator TRAI's recommendations.

"On the basis of a letter of Chairman of TRAI (Pradeep Baijal) dated November 11, 2003, a decision was taken by the Minister that entry fee for the new applicants would be equal to the entry fee paid by the fourth cellular operator," the report had said.

The licences were to be issued on FCFS basis but no guidelines detailing the procedure to be followed were notified, it added.

In its communication on November 4, 2003, the report said TRAI had reiterated its recommendations of October 2003 that additional players could be introduced through multi-stage bidding process.

The report said "it appears that these recommendations were not placed before the Telecom Commission (the highest decision-making body of the Telecom Ministry)."

"Only after deciding on November 17, 2003, and November 24, 2003, to follow the procedure applicable to Basic Service Licence for granting UASL and also apply FCFS criteria and to collect entry fee from the new UAS licencees as was paid by fourth cellular operator, the recommendations of TRAI dated November 4, 2003 were approved by the Minister on December 22, 2003," it said.

After this decision, 28 new UAS licences were issued in the year 2004.

Banker deposes in court

A banker was on Monday produced as a witness in the 2G spectrum case in a Delhi court to verify documents relating to financial transactions allegedly involving Reliance ADA Group  company and Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd which are accused in the case.

However, no sooner Uday Shahasrabuddhe, Mumbai-based Assistant Vice President of HDFC Bank, commenced recording of his statement, the counsel for the accused raised objections about the admissibility of the evidence produced by CBI.

Special CBI Judge O P Saini, however, refused to entertain at this stage the objections raised by the accused that the account opening form of Swan Telecom Ltd and statements of its account, which CBI sought to verify from Shahasrabuddhe, were not certified and therefore cannot be exhibited as evidence before the court.

The court referred to a Supreme Court judgement saying that in order to expedite the trial, objections against the evidence produced should be heard only at the stage of final arguments in the case.

"In view of the authoritative pronouncement by the Supreme Court, the final view about the objections will be taken during the final arguments and the exhibition of the documents shall be deemed as tentative. The stand of the parties have been taken on record for future reference.

Nothing more is required to be said in view of the law laid down by the Supreme Court," the judge said after hearing both sides for over two hours on the issue.

CBI maintained the documents were admissible as they were part of the bank record.
Rebutting the argument of accused that the 'banker documents' meant only the documents prepared by bank under the the Bankers' Books Evidence Act, CBI said documents relating
to opening of account like address proof, PAN card and Memorandum of Association of the company are part of bank record and the "books of the bank".

"Whatever these documents are, they have come from the bank where the account was opened and have not come from any other secondary source," Special Prosecutor U U Lalit said.

Lalit said the objections were raised by the defence counsel "only for the sake of raising it" and "with these objections the trial will be reduced to a futile exercise".

The examination of Shahasrabuddhe by CBI remained inconclusive and would resume tomorrow. After CBI's examination, the defence counsel will be given the opportunity
to cross examine the witness.

Cong refuses to accept CAG loss figure

Ahead of the Winter session of Parliament, Congress on Monday put a question mark on the CAG estimate of loss due to 2G spectrum allocations, noting that wide variations in the estimates suggest "something is amiss".

"Are we really swinging from the sublime to the ridiculous?" party spokesperson Manish Tewari wondered, pointing out that various figures of the loss have been mentioned by CAG officials themselves starting from zero loss to that of over Rs 4 lakh crore.

"We do not accept the loss figure put out by the CAG," Tewari, who is also a member of the JPC going into the 2G scam, told reporters here.

He said, "after all, the objective of an audit is to pin-point.....there has to be a definitive figure. If at all there was a loss, it cannot go from zero to Rs 4.19 lakh crore. Something is seriously amiss there."

Tewari said the way facts have come out in public domain about the estimation of the loss "raises a big question mark on the report".

Refusing to elaborate, Tewari reminded he would be rather circumspect on the question as he is a member of the JPC, which is in the process of recording the evidence.

JPN/Agencies