The mystery of who authorised the change in the cut-off date to receive applications for licences for 2G spectrum in 2007-08 has deepened with the country's top law officer denying his role, despite the department of telecom's insistence that the decision was based on his advice.
The DoT on January 10, 2008, decided to accept only those application forms that had been received till September 25, 2007, instead of the earlier announced October 1. The DoT has insisted the decision was based on the advice of attorney general GE Vahanvati, who has denied any information about the matter.
"I don't recollect having given any such opinion. So many files are sent to us, I am not aware of any such file now," he said.
DoT file notings, however, show that former telecom minister A Raja had insisted that opinion on change of cut-off dates be specifically obtained from Vahanvati, who held the post of solicitor general then.
The Delhi High Court had in November last year declared the DoT move "illegal".
The arbitrary change in cut-off dates by the DoT, which has also been severely criticised in the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, rendered 343 of the 575 applicants ineligible for the licences. The CAG charged Raja and the DoT with favouritism.
Official documents also show that Raja completely disregarded the opinion of the law ministry in administrative matters also. Then law minister HR Bhardwaj had specifically asked him to seek the opinion of the then attorney general, late Milon K Banerji, on all 2G issues.
According to Government of India Rules, 1987, for law officers, no legal opinion of any law officer is considered valid unless approved by the law secretary and law minister.
"There is no record with us to show that the DoT exchanged a single line of communication with Milon Banerji," said a ministry official.
Vahanvati said his role was confined to appearing for the DoT in the high court and the TDSAT, as asked by the law ministry.
"I only insisted on transparency and fairness," he said.