Former Telecom Minister A Raja was today grilled by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) before a Delhi court with the agency alleging that the decision to advance cut-off date for accepting the applications for grant of 2G spectrum licences was taken to "favour" Unitech, a charge refuted by him.
"It is incorrect," Raja told Special CBI Judge OP Saini after special public prosecutor UU Lalit questioned him that "this decision (to change cut-off date) of yours was taken to favour Unitech applications in particular." This assumes significance as the CBI had alleged in its charge sheet that in order to favour Unitech and Swan Telecom, Raja unilaterally advanced the cut-off date for accepting the applications for grant of 2G licences and ignored various authorities including Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Law Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office.
On being asked about the decision to change cut-off date to September 25, 2007 from October one, 2007, Raja, who is deposing as a witness to defend himself in the ongoing trial in 2G case, told the court that this date was finalised after deliberations which took place in the Department of Telecommunication (DoT).
"The decision taken by you to change the cut-off date to September 25, 2007 was without any reason on the file or coming from any of the papers appended to the file?," Lalit contended.
Responding to this, Raja said, "It is incorrect." "I was of the opinion to issue LOIs (letters of intent) to all 575 applications. However, this date was arrived on the basis of the deliberations which took place in the department under the context of policy documents mentioned as above in my statement," he said.
Raja, whose recording of statement would continue tomorrow, also told the court that the cut-off date of October 1, 2007, was meant for receiving applications for grant of licences while the cut-off date of September 25, 2007 was for processing these applications as decided by the DoT.
The CBI, in its charge sheet filed on April 2, 2011, had alleged that, "The investigation has revealed that even though this cut-off date of October 1 had been announced, accused Raja, in conspiracy with other accused, had already taken a view to keep the cut-off date as September 25."
Raja is facing trial in the case along with former Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura, DMK MP Kanimozhi, Raja's former private secretary R K Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra, Reliance ADAG executives Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair.
Besides them, Bollywood producer Karim Morani, Kalaignar TV Managing Director Sharad Kumar and Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd, Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, are also facing trial in the case.
Besides these 14 accused, three telecom firms Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd are also accused in the case.
The court had on October 22, 2011 framed charges against them under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, faking documents, abusing official position, criminal misconduct by public servant and taking bribe.