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Raja overlooked Trai advice too

Former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman Nripendra Misra has told the CBI the reulatory body had recommended auction of spectrum licence to Department of Telecommuncations (DoT) in August 2007, but the latter ignored it.

delhi Updated: Apr 19, 2011 00:56 IST
Bhadra Sinha

Former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman Nripendra Misra has told the CBI the reulatory body had recommended auction of spectrum licence to Department of Telecommuncations (DoT) in August 2007, but the latter ignored it.

In his statement given to CBI, Misra said the DoT termed the Trai recommendations “out of context”. Misra had also advised the government to call for the regulator’s recommendation to allow existing telecom operators to operate under dual technology, but former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura, an accused in the scam, refused to seek recommendations from Trai, stating mandatory consultation was required only if a category of licence was to be introduced for the first time.

In the case of the spectrum allocation to new operators, Behura had said “no useful purpose would be served by engaging in any further discussion with Trai”. According to Misra, Behura’s interpretation of the Trai Act was contrary to law. Misra, who was also telecom secretary between February 2004 and March 2005, said DoT had allocated spectrum and allowed cross-over to a few telecom operators in violation of the Trai regulations. Under the provisions of the Trai Act, 1997, the government has to seek the body’s recommendation before deciding on the need, timing, and conditions for the licence for a new service provider.

But the DoT, under A Raja, now an accused, chose to ignore the provisions of the Act and went ahead with spectrum allocation without the regulator’s advice. Misra told CBI he had sent persistent reminders to Behura to at least “call for the recommendations”.

As Trai chairman, Misra wrote his first letter to the then telecom secretary in September 2006. When Misra received a letter from the department in October 2006, informing him about issuance of licences to new service providers, he once again wrote to the government reminding it to seek “time-bound” recommendation from the regulator. He wrote letters to Behura in April and July 2008.