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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Swamy moves SC for cancellation of 2G licences

PTI  New Delhi, January 04, 2011
First Published: 21:43 IST(4/1/2011) | Last Updated: 21:47 IST(4/1/2011)

Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court seeking cancellation of the 2G spectrum licences alloted during the tenure of former telecom minister A Raja allegedly in violation of all norms and procedure causing huge loss to the state exchequer.

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The PIL filed by Swamy sought a direction to the government for holding a fresh auction for eligible entities for all the 122 licences in 22 circles across the country.

He alleged the allotment of spectrum, which according to the CAG report has caused a loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore to the state exchequer, has been sustained despite judgments of the Delhi high court that struck down the policy of allocating radio waves at the 2001 price on first-come-first-served basis in 2007-08.

Swamy's petiton was second after an NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), filed an identical PIL on December 14, 2010, seeking cancellation of the licences for 2G spectrum after the apex court decided to monitor the probe into the scam by CBI and Enforcement Directorate.

The Janata Party leader in his petition contended the department of telecom, then headed by Raja, had arbitrarily and with malafide intention to benefit certain entities advanced the cut-off date for making application for allocation of 2G spectrum from October 1 to September 25, 2007.

Swamy submitted DoT changed the cut-off date without consulting the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and gave a go-by to various norms to benefit Raja's four favoured firms - Swan, Unitech, Loop and Datacomm.

There has been allegation that Swan was owned by Reliance Infocom, while real estate major Unitech later entered into a joint venture with Telenor of Norway and Loop and Datacom were owned by Ruia Group and Videocon respectively.

"All of these had an early, clandestine, undue and unauthorized intimation of the novel changed prerequisites and were therefore able to fulfill immediately, wellnigh instantaneously, the paperwork and payment of license fees," the petition alleged.

"This is particularly intriguing since license fee rates (set in the region of Rs. 1621 crores a piece), were officially intimated only on that date; yet the favoured four were able to produce demand drafts for these huge amounts literally at a moment's notice," he alleged.

Swamy claimed that in less than a year, by September-October 2008, all Raja's four "cronies" (favoured companies) had divested themselves of part of their licenses at enormous profit.

The petition alleged that Swan sold 45% of its shares to Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates and Unitech Wireless sold 60% of its shares to Telenor (of Norway) while Tata Teleservices sold 26% of its shares to DoCoMo of Japan.

The petition said DoT had received 575 applications for grant of licenses from 46 companies for all the 22 service areas which were equally entitled to issue of the desired licenses.

Swamy said if the government has maintained that spectrum is a scarce resource and it was not possible to allocate it in respect of all pending applications then some equitable and reasonable selection criteria of allottees had to be worked out.

He contended the licences already allloted needs to be cancelled as DoT not only ignored the advice of the ministry of law and justice but also did not follow the suggestions of the Prime Minister and went ahead with issuing 85 of the 122 licenses to ineligible entities, causing a huge loss to the state exchequer, perhaps as high as Rs. 1,76,000 crores.

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