The Economic Times
English EditionEnglish Editionहिन्दी
| E-Paper
Search
+

    2G scam: Pramod Mahajan mooted, cleared additional spectrum on same day

    Synopsis

    The FIR has alleged that then telecom minister Pramod Mahajan cleared the file after keeping out three key functionaries from decision-making.

    ET Bureau
    NEW DELHI: The proposal to grant additional spectrum to three private telecom playersBharti Cellular, Hutchison Max and Sterling Cellular – allegedly without levying requisite spectrum charge in 2002, was mooted and cleared on the same day, January 31, 2002.

    The FIR registered by CBI in the case on Friday has alleged that then telecom minister Pramod Mahajan cleared the file after keeping out three key functionaries from decision-making.

    CBI has also alleged that there was no requirement for allocating additional spectrum beyond 8 MHz, but it was still granted to the three telecom players literally for free. “The main issue is awarding additional spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz and up to 10 MHz by just charging 1% of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) as spectrum charge,’’ CBI sources said. The anomaly was rectified by the telecom regulatory body six years later.

    “The accused persons, which includes then DDG (VAS) JR Gupta and then telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh, also decided to allocate such additional spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz by charging spectrum fee of an incremental 1% AGR only for allotting additional spectrum from 6.2 MHz up to 10 MHz instead of charging incremental 1% AGR on allotment of spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz and charging incremental 2% AGR on allotment of spectrum beyond 8 MHz, as applicable in normal prudence,’’ a statement issued by CBI on Saturday had noted.

    The decision, according to CBI, caused a loss of Rs 508 crore to the state exchequer during 2001-07. “There are only three notings on the file containing the proposal. While Gupta, who was then DDG (VAS), drafted the document, Ghosh cleared it for the Union minister’s approval. Mahajan approved it on the same day,’’ the CBI source said.

    The decision could have been kept in abeyance as three key functionaries of the telecom ministry were kept out of the loop. They included member (finance), who was shown to be on tour, wireless advisor, who was said to be retiring on the same day, and then MoS Tapan Sikdar, who too was out of station.

    “It was not such a decision which could not have been deferred for wider consultation. Moreover, there was requirement of spectrum till 10 MHz,” the CBI source said. Mahajan’s name could not be included in the list of accused as he is dead, but his name figures in the FIR at least four times. “He is the one who approved the file,” the source said.

    CBI had on Friday registered a FIR in the case under Section 120-B of the IPC (criminal conspiracy), and Section 13 (2) read with Section 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, (abuse of official position by a public servant).

    “It was alleged that then secretary (telecom) and then DDG(VAS), department of telecom, entered into a criminal conspiracy with three beneficiary private companies, based at Delhi and Mumbai, and abused their official positions as public servants. The public servants, with the approval of then minister of telecom (communications &IT) (since expired), took an alleged hurried decision on January 31, 2002, to allocate additional spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz in violation of the report of a Technical Committee and other agencies,’’ CBI said. , while reacting to raids conducted by CBI in the wake of the FIR, had said the firm always maintained the highest standard of corporate governance.

    “We would like to categorically state that all the spectrum alloted to us from time to time has been strictly as per the stated government policy,” the company had said. Vodafone too said that its documents were in complete compliance with the governing laws and regulations.

    BJP alleged the FIR had been registered as part of a witchhunt. “It has less to do with any wrongdoing. It is an attempt to seek equivalence between BJP and Congress in view of the drubbing UPA’s image in the wake of the 2G scam,’’ the party’s chief spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed.
    (Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

    Download The Economic Times News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.

    5 Comments on this Story

    Jehan Kumar3390 days ago
    Very simple solution. Probe the wealth of Promod Mahajans family. All excess money over and above his known income should be confiscated.
    ashok3391 days ago
    The history of the telecom industry is replete with such transgressions. The decision to permit telcos to migrate to revenue sharing was an even larger issue. The saving grace is that consumers pay some of the lowest tariffs in the world.
    Prasad3391 days ago
    BJP should not stall parliment due to 2G, the root cause of the 2G is BJP. How can they blame congress ?
    The Economic Times