New Delhi: After A Raja, former Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura on Thursday sought to implicate Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the 2G spectrum scam, claiming that the PMO was kept in the loop by the then Telecom Minister on the first-come-first-served policy in the award of licenses. JPN/Agencies
Behura, seeking discharge from the case, said the letter, written by Raja to the Prime Minister on December 26, 2007, makes it clear that the shift in the FCFS policy was also approved by Attorney General G E Vahanvati, the then Solicitor General.
"I am a civil servant and cannot be made an accused for following the policy which had the backing of the Minister and was approved by the Solicitor General and not only that even the Prime Minister was privy to it," senior advocate Aman Lekhi submitted before Special CBI Judge O P Saini.
Lekhi read the letter to drive home the point that the change in FCFS to decide priority of applicants companies was a policy decision and Behura had nothing to do with it.
Instead of according seniority on the basis of date of application, DoT decided to award licenses to companies which would comply with the terms of LoI first, Lekhi said.
"This issue never arose in the past as at one point of time only one application was processed and LoI was granted and enough time was given to him (company) for compliance of conditions of LOI."
"However, since the Government has adopted a policy of "No Cap" on number of UAS Licence, a large number of LoIs are proposed to be issued simultaneously. In these circumstances, an applicant who fulfills conditions of LoI first will be granted licence first, although several applicants will be issued LoIs simultaneously. The same has been concurred by the Solicitor General during discussions," Lekhi said while reading from the letter.
Earlier, Raja had sought to rope in the Prime Minister and then Finance Minister P Chidambaram saying they were privy to the decision on dilution of equities by Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu), alleged beneficiaries of spectrum allocation, to foreign firms-- Dubai-based Etisalat and Norway-based Telenor.
Lekhi, in his three-hour-long arguments, on Thursday said that Raja, in the letter, discussed earlier procedures of award of licence under the FCFS policy saying "an application received first will be processed first and if found eligible will be granted LoI (Letter of Intent)."
The key allegation against Behura was that he manipulated FCFS policy to extend benefits to Swan Telecom was not backed by evidence, he said.
"Persons like Behura, who should have been made a witness, has been made an accused and all concerned, who concurred with the policy of the Minister, have been either left out or have been made witnesses," Lekhi said.
Terming CBI charge sheet as "bundle of contradictions and utter legal non-sense", he said the agency had relied on the testimonies of witnesses who have deposed against it. He sought to implead prosecution witness A K Srivastava and other DoT officials as accused saying they have wrongly been made witnesses.
Lekhi questioned the stand of CBI of raising the issue that because of the manipulation in the FCFS policy, Tata and other eligible firms could not get the licenses. The big corporate (Tata) is not complaining and it is the agency which is making hue and cry on the issue, he said.
Behura, who is sought to be charged under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with conspiracy and abuse of official position, also said the sanction to prosecute him was not valid, Lekhi said while concluding the arguments.
The court would tomorrow hear arguments on behalf of other accused.
Behura accuses CBI
Meanwhile, former Telecom Secretary Siddharath Behura accused CBI of making a "hue and cry" of Tata "unfairly" losing out to Swan Telecom in the award of 2G spectrum licenses for lucrative Delhi circle.
"Emphasis has been given by the prosecutor on the issue as to why Tata did not get the license. Why this hue and cry? Does CBI hold a brief for the Tata," senior advocate Aman Lekhi submitted before Special CBI Judge O P Saini.
The big corporate (Tata) was not complaining and also accepted that its amended application was filed after that of Swan Telecom, he said, adding it is the agency which is making a hue and cry.
"While Swan Telecom applied on February 27 and Tata applied on March 4, 2007, for spectrum by way of an amended application to the Wireless, Planning and Coordination wing at the Department of Telecom (DoT). Then, why should Tata have got Delhi circle?" the lawyer said.
"Are they (Tata) above other bidders? Are they such a big business house?" he said.
New Delhi: After A Raja, former Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura on Thursday sought to implicate Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the 2G spectrum scam, claiming that the PMO was kept in the loop by the then Telecom Minister on the first-come-first-served policy in the award of licenses.