New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Monday issued notice to the CBI on former communications minister A. Raja’s plea to dismiss charges against him in the 2G case on the grounds the probe was biased.
Issuing notice, Justice A.K. Pathak sought a reply from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) within four weeks and posted the matter for Sep 6.
Raja, who was arrested in February 2011 and spent 15 months in prison before getting bail, contended in the petition that the CBI special judge hearing the case erred in holding that there was illegality in the manner spectrum was allocated.
The former minister also alleged that the chargesheet filed in the case showed a bias in the investigation as it was silent on the telecom licences issued during 2003-07, the period before the allocation of licences under Raja in 2008.
“During the period 2003-07, a total of 51 licences were issued by the DoT (department of telecommunication). These were issued on the same terms and conditions as those issued by the DoT under the petitioner in the year 2008. Yet the charge sheet has chosen to remain silent on this aspect, which shows the bias in its investigation. The special judge has also ignored this aspect altogether, which is a grave error,” said Raja, a DMK MP, in his petition.
He further said that CBI special judge O.P. Saini failed to appreciate that the decisions and actions of Raja as minister on the issues relating to allotment and pricing of 2G spectrum were fully in conformity with the department’s consistent policy.
Raja claimed that the successive governments had chosen to allocate telecom licences and spectrum on a basis other than revenue maximisation.
Telecom watchdog, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), has consistently taken the view that revenue generation should not be a major determinant of the policy governing the telecom sector, he added.
“There was a conscious decision taken by successive governments to maintain the entry fee at 2001 levels, based on consistent recommendations of the TRAI to this effect. The petitioner has merely followed the decisions of his predecessors in this regard. If the petitioner has to be charged with cheating, then each and every minister of communication and IT since 2003 also must face the same charge,” the petition said.
“In fact, it is to be noted that these were not decisions of the minister alone but were backed by successive cabinets,” it said.
“The trial court failed to appreciate that the central government, which is the alleged victim of the cheating, has consistently maintained in public and in parliament that the loss caused by the so-called 2G scam is nil,” said Raja.
Raja also maintained that the gain to the public as a result of the government policy during his tenure as minister was real and tangible.
“It may be noted that in March 2007, rural teledensity was about six percent and total teledensity was about 18 percent. After the grant of new UAS (unified access service)licences, rural teledensity has now increased to 28.46 percent and total teledensity increased to about 60.99 percent as on Sep 30, 2010.”
He also submitted that there was no evidence against him, and the trial court erred in holding that a bribe of Rs.200 crore was paid to him.
Raja resigned as minister Nov 14, 2010 in the wake of the Comptroller and Auditor General reporting that his 2008 decision to allocate 2G spectrum on a first come, first served basis had caused the exchequer a presumptive loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore. The CBI arrested him Feb 2,2011.
Charges with criminal conspiracy, forgery, and cheating under the Indian Penal Code were slapped on him, as well as provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.