The NDA government has defended the previous UPA regime’s granting of telecom licence to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, ruling out that the company had been allowed “backdoor entry.”
The government claimed in an affidavit in Supreme Court on Wednesday that it was incorrect to say that the Rs 1,658 crore entry fee paid by the operators (in 2001) was “meager”. Activist organisation Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) has alleged that the amount, which was determined way back in 2001, was not commensurate for 2010.
Reliance Jio had not participated in spectrum bidding in 2010, but had bought a 95% stake in Infotel Telecom Limited (ITL) promoted by HFCL for Rs 4,800 crore immediately after the auction of Broadband Wireless Access spectrum. ITL had bagged nation-wide BWA spectrum in 2010. The stake buy had marked the re-entry of Mukesh Ambani in the telecom industry, after Reliance Communications went to his brother Anil in the family business reorganization.
CPIL had challenged the government’s decision to allow Reliance Jio to offer voice services. It was on CPIL's petition that the SC had in 2010 ordered a CBI inquiry into the 2G spectrum scam.
The petition said by allowing Reliance Jio to offer voice telephony, the company had got undue benefit of about Rs 22,842 crore and a corresponding loss to the government.