New Delhi: Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on Monday hit out at Opposition BJP for demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram by treating the argument of former Telecom Minister A Raja in 2G scam case in the court as evidence against the government.

His comments came after BJP president Nitin Gadkari demanded resignation of Singh and Chidambaram stating that what Raja had said in court showed that the top leadership of the government was aware of all 2G transactions.

Raja told a Delhi court hearing the 2G case that Chidambaram, then Finance Minister, had told the Prime Minister that dilution of shares by 2G licencees to attract FDI did not not amount to sale of licence.

Sibal told a press conference it was "unfortunate" that President of a national political party like BJP demanded resignation on the basis of arguments made by Raja in the court. "He (Gadkari) should have consulted Arun Jaitley (senior BJP leader) or some other lawyer".

On the allegations that two new telecom licencees -- Unitech and Swan-- divested their equity at premium, the Telecom Minister asserted that "there was no disinvestment and it was only dilution of stake by bringing in additional equity".

Asked whether the Prime Minister knew about the dilution of equity by Unitech and Swan, Sibal said "yes, the Prime Minister knew that it was dilution of equity" by way of issuing new shares and there was no divestment of promoters' equity.

He also took a dig at BJP for not acting against Karnataka Chief Minister B Yeddyruppa who is facing allegations of corruption.

"The way these issues are being raised by them (BJP) ahead of Parliament session, it seems thay have no other issue and they are adopting these tactics to disrupt the session", Sibal said.

Sibal also said that it was under BJP-led government in 1999 the issuance of additional equity by way of private placement, even when the five-year lock-in period was there, was allowed.

"... that lock-in period will not come in the way of dilution of equity. This was their own policy," he said, adding that in 2003 the same government came out with new guidelines and the lock-in period of five years was also removed.

However, this (rule) was changed in July 23, 2009, by the UPA government and introduced three-year lock-in period but one was allowed to induct partner by way of issuing fresh shares that is diluting promoters' equity.

In Swan Telecom the additional shares were brought in 2007-08 before the guidelines of July 23, 2009, while in case of Uninor, the additional equity came in 2009 and 2010 and the same was cleared by FIPB and CCEA as well, the Minister said.

Asked about the losses to the government as computed by CBI, Sibal asserted that if "there is a first come first serve policy there is no question of loss. Loss comes only if there is an auction."
The Minister had earlier said that there was no question of any revenue loss to the government as spectrum was not auctioned and also no one has ever paid for spectrum all licencees have paid only entry fee and spectrum was always bundled with the licence.

Raja seeks to rope in PM, PC

Former Telecom Minister A Raja on Monday sought to rope in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the then Finance Minister P Chidamabaram in the 2G case, telling a court the issue of sale of equity by spectrum licencees was discussed with them.

Defending himself against corruption charges in 2G scam, the 47-year-old DMK MP also submitted before Special CBI Judge O P Saini there was nothing wrong in his decision of not auctioning 2G spectrum and that he was merely following the policies pursued by his predecessors and the NDA government.

Senior Advocate Sushil Kumar appearing for Raja, now behind bars, said that when Home Minister Chidambaram was the Finance Minister he had told the Prime Minister that dilution of shares by the accused licencees to attract FDI did not amount to sale of licence.

Arguing that sale of equity was not sale of licence, Kumar said Raja cannot be accused of corruption in the controversial 2G spectrum allocation.

"The matter (about sale of equity by spectrum licencees) was discussed between the Prime Minister and the then Finance Minister (P Chidambaram).

"The then Finance Minister who is now Home Minister had said in front of the Prime Minister that dilution of shares does not amount to sale of 2G licence as per the corporate law," asserted Sushil, who even said "Let the Prime Minister deny this."

Raja further said, "When sale of equity does not amount to sale of licence, there in no question of earning profit. How can (then) be corruption there in this regard?"

Kumar said if Raja is being prosecuted for following a certain policy then all Telecom ministers since 1993 are liable to be prosecuted and should be in jail along with him as they too followed the same policy.

"If policy pursued by me was wrong, then all former Telecom ministers since 1993 should also be in jail with me (Raja)," the counsel said while opposing framing of charges against Raja.

On the action by his predecessors, Raja said, "Telecom Minister Arun Shourie distributed 26 licences while Dayanidhi Maran distributed 25 and I (Raja) distributed 122 licences. Numbers make no difference, however, it is to be noted that none of them auctioned the spectrum.

"If they had done no wrong, why am I being questioned? Let them deny that they have not done what I did. I was just following the 2003 Cabinet decision that is not to auction 2G spectrum. If I am following the law, I am not liable to be prosecuted. Infact, I should be rewarded," he added.

Raja also questioned CBI's authority to decide on the loss to the state exchequer due to the 2G Spectrum allocation.
"Who is CBI to decide the loss? Let the Government say so," he said.

Raja also argued that sale of equity by way of UAS licence can be made directly to a company or to its holding company.
"The CBI, however, is maintaining that when DB Realty gave its shares (in Swan Telecom) to bring in money, it amounted to sale and so is the case with Unitech (Wireless). But, when Tata Tele services give its shares to bring in FDI, it, according to the CBI, does not amount to sale," Raja contended.

Unitech sold 67 per cent equity for Rs 6,120 crore whereas Tata Tele Services got Rs 13,973 crore by selling only 27 per cent equity, he said, adding that even then Tata was not accused by the CBI of committing any offence.

"Who is a better businessman - Sanjay Chandra of Unitech or Ratan Tata of Tata Tele Services? And then they say we kept them (Tata) out of Delhi circle," Raja said.

Nowhere in the entire transaction has Sanjay Chandra been named as a conspirator, argued Raja.

"It is just that a shade of suspicion by way of a loan transaction has been planted by the CBI in respect of Sanjay Chandra. "The only sin of DB Realty and Unitech, who are actually realty eagles and developers, is that they have got good contacts and brought money from abroad," he added. Raja also questioned CBI's rationale for questioning the profits earned by Unitech Wireless and Swan Telecom by sale of shares when S-Tel earning of Rs 2,230 crore has gone unchallenged by the agency.

"S Tel also earned Rs 2,230 crore by diluting its shares but that was not considered as sale by the CBI then why only Unitech Wireless and Swan Telecom are caught," he said.

While defending his policy as telecom minister, Raja submitted that it is because of his policy that mobile phone call rates came down and they became affordable to even a 'rickshaw wala'.

"It was my obligation to social justice that every man on the street should have a mobile phone. I am a servant of my people and I made the call rates of mobile phone so cheap that even a 'rickshaw wala' or a maid servant can be seen using it," Raja said.

Raja, who was arrested on February 2 for his alleged role in the 2G scam, today began his arguments opposing charges of cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy against him. CBI has estimated that there was a loss of Rs 30,000 crore to the state exchequer due to Raja's 2G policy.

CBI had begun its arguments on framing of charges against Raja and 16 others, including three telecom firms, from July 21 and had completed its arguments on July 23.

All the 14 accused including DMK MP Kanimozhi are Presently lodged in Tihar Jail.

CBI spared Tata Teleservices, says Raja

A Raja, former Telecom Minister and prime accused in 2G spectrum case, today alleged in a Delhi court that CBI spared Tata Teleservices which made Rs 14,000 crore in the scam and dared the agency to touch the company's top boss.

"Let the prosecution touch the man who has made Rs 14,000 crore in this. They cannot touch him. This is my challenge (to CBI). Picking and choosing (the accused) is not permissible in law," Raja's counsel and senior advocate Sushil Kumar contended before Special CBI Judge O P Saini.

The DMK MP said nine telecom companies were issued 2G licences but CBI alleges that he conspired only with two companies --Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless of Sanjay Chandra -- leaving out Tata Teleservices and others.

Unitech Wireless sold 67 per cent equity for Rs 6,120 crore whereas Tata Teleservices got Rs 13,973 crore by selling only 27 per cent equity, he said, adding even then Tata Teleservices was not accused by CBI of committing any offence.

"Who is a better businessman - Sanjay Chandra of Unitech or Ratan Tata of Tata Tele Services? And then they say we kept them (Tata) out of Delhi circle," Raja said.

He accused CBI of adopting "pick and choose" policy for making Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless as conspirators in the entire episode.

"Nine companies have got the licences – Unitech Wireless, S-Tel, Systema Shyam Telelinks, Swan Telecom, Datacom Services, Loop Telecom, Tata Teleservices, Spice Communication and Idea Cellular. We are dealing with only two companies (Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless) now. "Case of the prosecution is that each one of these companies has sold their licence and on this, the presumptive loss is at about Rs 22,000 crore. Out of these nine companies, only two are before this court as accused. Why other seven comapnies are not there," Kumar submitted.

Two more companies -- Videocon Telecommunication and Allianz Infratech -- were also alloted 2G licences.

He alleged Tata Teleservices made money in allocation of spectrum and made around Rs 14,000 crore.

"Everyone (telecom companies) has got foreign equity induction. Tata Teleservices has got Rs 14,000 crore in this. Swan Telecom has got around Rs 3,600 crore, S-Tel got Rs 861 crore while Systema Shyam Telelinks got Rs 211 crores.

"Induction of equity by permissible route is not black money. CBI calls it illegal money as I did not auctionthe licences," he said.

 "CBI, however, is maintaining that when DB Realty gave its shares (in Swan Telecom) to bring in money, it amounted to sale and so is the case with Unitech (Wireless). But when Tata Teleservices give its shares to bring in FDI, it, according to CBI, does not amount to sale," Raja argued.

"The sin of Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless is that they have good contacts aborad and they managed to get money from there and thus they are here in jail. How can you (CBI) build a case if they will let off Tata Teleservices or say S-Tel and others?," he said.

Only issue was whether divestment or diluting shares: PC


Home Minister P Chidambaram today said that the only issue examined by him as Finance Minister in 2007 and by the Prime Minister was if the two new telecom licencees Swan and Unitech were divesting i.e. selling their stake or diluting shares through issue of fresh equity.

He also said that the telecom ministry consistently wanted the entry fee to remain at 2001-levels but the Finance Ministry always wanted it to be rediscovered through an auction.

Chidambaram declined to comment on Raja's testimony because he would not comment on a statement reportedly made in the court.

"They (Swan Telecom and Unitech) were inducting foreign partners or new partners. They had got spectrum and they had (telecom) licence. They were now inducting new partners.

"I think, the DoT (Department of Telecom) had approved the induction of new partners," he said.

(Agencies)