'Raja Wrote to PM on Policy for License Distribution in 2G'
A key prosecution witness in the 2G case today told a Delhi court that former Telecom Minister A Raja had written a letter to the Prime Minister about the "policy" for distribution of licences but the issues involved in it were not "discussed" in the Department of Telecom (DoT).
A K Srivastava, a former Deputy Director General (AS) of the DoT, testified this in the court after counsel appearing for Sidharath
Behura, former telecom secretary and an accused in the case, asked him about a January 7, 2008 note of the DoT containing details of first-come-first-served
"Kindly take a look on your note dated January 7, 2008... wherein you yourself have recorded that an applicant, who fulfills the conditions of LoI first will be granted licence first. Could you please elaborate this in the light of your answer above," Behura's counsel S P Minocha asked
Srivastava answered the query saying the related paragraph in the January 7, 2008 note is "an extract of letter written by MOC&IT (Raja) to the Prime Minister on December 26, 2007."
"I was asked to treat the contents of this letter as policy directives for licensing matters ... These are not the views of the AS cell or myself as the said letter was neither processed nor put up by AS cell," he said.
"It is wrong to suggest that this was the policy decided by DoT and subsequently communicated to the PM," he deposed, adding, "The said policy was neither discussed in the DoT nor I had any occasion to apply my mind to the same."
Raja, in a December 26, 2007 letter to the Prime Minister, had given details about the procedures to be adopted for the distribution of LoIs to the companies and the FCFS policy.
The CBI, in its charge sheet, had alleged that Raja, in conspiracy with other accused, had changed the FCFS policy to favour some telecom companies.
During the cross examination, Behura's counsel accused Srivastava of giving a false statement in the court that the FCFS policy got altered by virtue of a press release dated January 10, 2008 issued by the DoT.
Srivastava denied this saying, "No sir, it is not a false statement for the reason that after the deletion of last para ...From press release..., it emerged that whosoever complies with the LoI conditions first will be granted Unified Access Services
(UAS) licence first. The press release...itself was drafted by Sidharath Behura."
He also testified that it was not known to him on January 9, 2008 that LoIs had to be distributed on the next day.
Srivastava told the court that he did not know whether his house was searched by CBI in December 2010 in the "capacity" of his "being a suspect" in this case.
He said that his statement was recorded by the CBI even after Behura's arrest in the case.
Srivastava denied that he was confronted with Behura by the CBI to put pressure on him to support their case.
"It is wrong to suggest that this confrontation was done to put pressure on me to either support the prosecution case or to meet the fate of Sidharath
Behura. It is wrong to suggest that under the promise of my exoneration, the investigating officers
(IOs) prepared statements on their own and later on attributed the same to me," he said.
Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi, along with others, are facing trial for various offences like criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and faking documents under the Indian Penal Code and for the offences of abusing official position, getting bribe and criminal misconduct by public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The offences entail punishment ranging from six months in jail to life imprisonment.
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