Former telecom minister and prime accused in the 2G spectrum scam, A Raja, left no stone unturned to help Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd get licences for GSM operations.
While framing charges against Raja, additional sessions judge OP Saini elaborated the former minister's role, who violated the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) guidelines and ignored legal opinion — allegedly for the benefit of two companies.
This, the order recorded, caused loss to Tata Teleservices as Swan Telecom was ahead in getting GSM licence for Delhi circle. Tata Teleservices was an existing service provider but under CDMA technology. If the guidelines had been followed, Tata Teleservices would have become eligible for rolling out GSM services in Delhi circle.
Early cut-off date
The court order, among other things, states that “...in pursuance to the conspiracy to favour the two companies”, Raja decided the cut-off date as October 1, 2007. Although a press release was issued to this effect, the cut-off date was later changed to September 25, 2007.
Raja stuck to his decision despite the law ministry’s suggestion to place it before the Empowered Group of Ministers. This helped Unitech Wireless top the priority list in 14 circles, as applications after the new cut-off date were rejected.
In conspiracy with co-accused Siddhartha Behura, former telecom secretary and Raja’s personal assistance RK Chandolia, Raja amended the then Solicitor General GE Vahanvati’s legal opinion to cheat the department of telecommunications (DoT).
Raja allegedly struck out the last paragraph of the opinion, which stated that if more than one applicant complied with the conditions of the Letter of Intent, the inter-se priority would be decided by the date of application. Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless had prior knowledge and their demand drafts were ready since early October and November 2007.
Raja allegedly delayed the file of Tata Teleservices to benefit Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless. Tata Teleservices had applied for GSM licence. This was subsequent to DoT’s October 19, 2007, press release. Raja had, however, accepted Reliance Communications Ltd's application a day earlier.
Tata Teleservices should have got priority over other applicants as it was an existing operator. But Raja “dishonestly” clubbed the request with fresh applicants and gave in-principle approval on January 10, 2008.