'Govt decided policy, I only obeyed order'
Top ministers and officials continued to be targeted by accused in the high-profile 2G scam case. On Wednesday, the secretary of jailed former telecom minister A Raja, Siddharth Behura, dragged the name of RBI governor D Subbarao into the controversy. Harish V Nair reports.delhi Updated: Jul 28, 2011 00:10 IST
Top ministers and officials continued to be targeted by accused in the high-profile 2G scam case. On Wednesday, the secretary of jailed former telecom minister A Raja, Siddharth Behura, dragged the name of RBI governor D Subbarao into the controversy.
Like Raja, Behura who also has been in Tihar jail for the last 175 days, did not spare former finance minister P Chidambaram saying he was in the know of everything and was an active participant when the spectrum allocation policy was being evolved. Raja had stoked a political storm targeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, home minister P Chidambaram and attorney general G E Vahanvati.
Alleging Behura had been made a ‘scapegoat’, his counsel Aman Lekhi contended Behura was not party to decision on first -come-first-served policy or "illegal" advancement of cut-off dates to favour certain firms. Lekhi said the issue was about the entry fee in which Behura was dragged in which “one particular applicant benefited”.
“On December 4, 2007, a meeting was called to discuss entry fee. At this meeting, then finance secretary D Subbarao (RBI governor) raised objection that the fee should be hiked. D S Mathur (former telecom secretary) defended the existing fee. Chidambaram was present in the meeting. If an objection was raised, the matter should have gone to the cabinet. But Subbarao withdrew objection and subsequently a note was issued approving the the entry fee policy which was signed by all present,” Lekhi said.
“Behura only followed this approved policy. The allegation is that loss was caused because of the low entry fee. If people who approved it are witness how can the man who implemented their decision be an accused?” argued Lekhi. “Can you drag a civil servant to court for doing his duty? Look at the predicament. If he disobeys his master's orders, it is misconduct and if he obeys he lands in jail fastened with criminal liability. Entire cabinet has the collective responsibility for the policy. Government publicly defended it and continues to do so. Why am I being made a scapegoat just for obeying my minister's orders in good faith and as an obedient civil servant?,” Lekhi asked.
Behura is accused of colluding with Raja in selection of spectrum licence awardees.