New Delhi: Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa on Tuesday rubbished CBI's allegation that only he had prior information about pre-requisites for getting the 2G licenses, saying all 13 companies were ready with demand drafts of Rs 1659 crore.

"It was not the case (as projected by CBI) that only Swan Telecom was there with the DD of Rs 1659 crore on that day (January 10, 2008) to receive Letters of Intent. If that was true, then 13 companies in all would not have been there and ready. How is it that all the 13 companies have not been charged?" Balwa's lawyer Majeed Memon told Special CBI Judge O P Saini.

Advancing arguments against framing of charges in the case, the defence lawyer said major telecom players like Tata and Idea cellular were also ready with the DDs in advance.

CBI's plea that Balwa had prior information and hence had the draft ready in November-December 2007 was "incorrect", he said, adding Balwa did so only on the basis of market speculation.

"The prosecution case that we had prior information and had got drafts and others ready in November-December 2007 is faulty. We would not have been running around had we been told about the date of distribution of LoIs."

Balwa denies role in 2G spectrum

Meanwhile he claimed innocence in court, saying he had no role in allotment of 2G spectrum to his firm at the cost of Tatas or anyone else.

It was the Department of Telecom which took all the decisions regarding the grant of licences to telecom firms and left out Tata, he told Special Judge O P Saini while advancing in person his arguments opposing corruption and other penal charges invoked by the CBI against him.

Refuting CBI allegations that he plotted with former Telecom Minister A Raja and others to pocket 2G spectrum licence in lucrative Delhi circle at the cost of the Tatas, Balwa pointed out that even today 12 MHz spectrum is available for allotment in the national capital circle.

"Even today 12 MHz of spectrum is available in the Delhi circle. What is stopping the Department of Telecom to allocate the spectrum to Tata in Delhi circle which needs only 4.4 MHz of spectrum here," Balwa contended.

"If at all anything is done, it has been done by the DoT and not by me. Why am I facing the criminal prosecution?" Balwa asked the court.

The real estate tycoon-turned-telecom czar told the court that it was in March 2007 that Raja got a report from the Wireless Planning and Coordination wing (WPC) saying no spectrum was available in Delhi circle.

"In November 2007, however, all of a sudden 15 MHz spectrum appeared in Delhi circle and nobody knew how it appeared," he said, adding that as per the DoT website, even today 12 MHz Spectrum is available in the Delhi circle.

Later resuming his argument for Balwa's discharge, his counsel Majeed Memon rubbished the CBI's claim that Delhi was the most lucrative telecommunication circle, arguing that the national capital circle was placed rather at the fifth place as per generation of revenue here.

"A false air was created that Delhi was the most lucrative circle and Swan Telecom pocketed it. Delhi is over exploited already and no wise person could run for the Delhi circle," Memon said.

CBI, in its chargesheet, has alleged that Balwa had conspired with Raja and other accused DoT officials for grant of 2G spectrum licence to Swan Telecom and Unitech wireless, which resulted in Tata getting elbowed out of the race for spectrum in the lucrative Delhi circle despite its higher position in priority list.

"Lot of noise is being made about alleged injustice to the Tatas but the important part of one of the pre-requisites to obtain licence was to obtain no-dues-certificate from the WPC as without a no-dues-certificate (NDC), one could not be entertained (for grant of licence)," Memon said.

"As per a TDSAT order, Tata Tele services was required to obtain a NDC from WPC before signing the licence agreement," he said.

"NDC was issued by WPC to Tata till February 27, 2008. It is only on February 27, 2008, that they received a no due certificate and made an amended application for licence on March 5, 2008," he added.

"Tatas themselves caused the delay by not obtaining a NDC for entire February and so their grievance cannot be attributed to me (Balwa)," he said.

Memon also referred to a letter written by Raja to the Tatas regarding a donation of Rs 20 crore for a medical college-cum-hospital in Perambalur.

Memon asked the court as to what is this special case that Ratan Tata referred to and why is it not being looked at suspiciously.

"Making a donation as a special case is the easiest way for a person to receive favour. If I were to give illegal gratification of Rs 200 crore as alleged for favours from Raja, why would I adopt circuitous route where the money finally does not even reach him. I could have also made a cheque towards charity," he said.

Contrary to Raja's argument seeking to embroil Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the 2G scam, Balwa had on Monday asserted in the court that he, as well Raja, were not finding fault with the PM, who only supported the right policy.

"We (Shahid Balwa and A Raja) are not finding fault with the stand taken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as being reported by the media," Memon had said.

Balwa, facing charges of cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy and corruption, was arrested on February 8 and is presently lodged in Tihar Jail along with 13 other accused including Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi.

(Agencies)