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HindustanTimes Sun,31 Aug 2014

Raja himself dictated letters to Prime Minister: Ex-aide

Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 28, 2011
First Published: 23:43 IST(28/3/2011) | Last Updated: 00:57 IST(29/3/2011)

Former telecom minister A Raja took personal initiative in drafting and sending two controversial letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Raja informed Singh of his ministry's decision to continue with the 'first-come-first-served' policy for issuing unified access service (UAS) licences and allocate spectrum at the rates fixed in 2001.

A former additional private secretary of Raja, Aseervatham Achary, claimed in a statement recorded before a magistrate under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code that he had typed out the first letter - dated November 2, 2007 - on Raja's dictation at the minister's residence.

Achary said he had received a call from Raja on November 2, 2007 at around 8pm, asking him to reach the minister's residence urgently.

He found Raja's private secretary RK Chandolia and a few others were already there.

He said Raja told him to sit at a computer and started dictating the letter himself. The letter got ready by 11pm and was then dispatched to the PM.

In the letter, Raja also stated that the cut-off date for applications to be processed for the licences would be September 25, 2007, instead of October 1, 2007.

However, investigators said the department of telecommunication did not announce the decision to advance the cut-off date till January 10, 2008. Investigators believe that only a favoured few telecom companies were informed about it.

Raja also stated that the law ministry's suggestion to refer the matter to a group of ministers (GoM) was "totally out of context".

What's more, Achary said another letter of Raja to the PM on December 26, 2007 - later termed "disrespectful to the PM and objectionable" by the Supreme Court - had also been dictated by the minister himself.

In that letter, Raja told the PM that he had decided to go ahead both with the first-come-first-served policy and allocation of spectrum on the rates fixed in 2001.

Achary also said the DB Realty partners Vinod Goenka and Shahid Usman Balwa were regulars at Raja's office when he was handling the environment ministry.

Later, Balwa used to come alone.

According to Achary, Balwa was a frequent visitor at Raja's residence and office when he became the telecom minister.

Both are now in judicial custody.


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