New Delhi: Tatas are being portrayed as the ‘victim’ in 2G spectrum scam by CBI but they are the greatest beneficiary in the allocation of the radio waves during the tenure of A Raja as Telecom Minister, a Delhi Court was told on Wednesday.

Shahid Usman Balwa, promoter of Swan Telecom and accused in the case, alleged that CBI was trying to shield Tatas by giving them a clean chit and portraying that Balwa's company benefitted the most in the 2G spectrum allocation.

Seeking to buttress the allegations, Balwa's counsel Vijay Agarwal, said, “How Tatas could be a victim when they were in good terms with Raja and Ratan Tata had praised the former Telecom Minister on the entire episode of 2G.

"Tatas never had any strained relations with Raja. In fact, he (Ratan Tata) had written to Raja praising him that he has been rational, fair and action-oriented," he submitted before special CBI judge O P Saini.

While alleging that CBI was shielding Tatas, he said "CBI's heart beats for Tatas". He questioned the projection of Tatas as clean while relying on the statement of coporate lobbyist Niira Radia that the Tata trust donated Rs 50 crore to a hospital in Raja's constituency in Tamil Nadu.

CBI said, “Tata, which was an existing licencee, sought to have dual technology. Its file was delayed by 35 days and it was shown that Swan Telecom has been issued licence for Delhi circle."

The agency has alleged in its charge sheet that Tata Tele Services Ltd and Spice Communications, which were having priority over Swan Telecom in terms of dual technology approvals, were ‘unreasonably deprived’ of allocation of spectrum for Delhi circle. CBI had submitted that Tata Tele Services Ltd and Spice Communication were hit hard by the conspiracy hatched by former Raja and others, including Shahid Usman Balwa and Vivek Goenka of Swan Telecom and Sanjay Chandra of Unitech Wireless Ltd, in allocation of 2G spectrum.

Agarwal also contended that with the exception of Unitech, CBI does not say a word about the 85 other ineligible companies.

The court reserved its order on bail pleas of Asif and Rajeev Balwa for May 21 while the order on Balwa's bail plea has been put up for May 24.

Contending on behalf of Balwa, Agarwal also contended "there is no scientific assessment of the charge that the Delhi circle was the most lucrative and was available for only one player which is why I (Shahid Balwa) conspired to get hold of it.

JPC examines telecom policy of NDA

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G spectrum scam on Wednesday began examining the telecom policy pursued during the NDA rule as it sought to know the quantum of losses incurred during that period and decided to summon the then Attorney General Soli Sorabjee in this connection.

At its second meeting since being set up in February, the JPC headed by Congress leader P C Chacko went into matters related to the telecom policy, allocation of spectrum and pricing between 1998 and 2008.

Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar, who appeared before the 30-member committee, gave a detailed briefing on the issue tracing the history of the present telecom policy.

Several members raised pointed questions on the changes in telecom policy in the NDA rule that allowed operators to migrate from fixed license fee regime to the revenue sharing model.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Chacko said the Comptroller and Auditor General report of 2000 clearly stated that the change in policy had caused a ‘huge loss’ to the exchequer.

The CAG had then expressed its inability to quantify the losses and details of the license fees and concession offered to operators in the wake of migration policy were not available, he said.

"Since the figures are available now, the Committee has directed the Telecom Secretary to quantify the losses," Chacko said.

Noting that the Cabinet decision of July 6, 1999 to change the policy was based on the advice of the then Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, the Committee has decided to call him as a witness.

In reply to a question, Chacko said technically there was no bar on calling Committee members as witnesses. He was referring to BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh, who are members of the JPC and were part of the NDA Cabinet in 1999 when the decision was taken.

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JPN/Agencies