The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report is threatening to derail the winter session of Parliament with its indictment of telecom minister A Raja in the 2G spectrum scam. But even before the CAG report, the Delhi High Court had declared illegal the procedure of spectrum allocation.
The CAG report, though already in the public domain, is yet to tabled in Parliament and has taken the support of the court verdict in its indictment of the minister.
The high court had in November 2009 declared the Department of Telecom (DoT) move to advance the cut-off dates for spectrum licence bids illegal.
The court had quashed the DoT notification advancing the cut-off date, saying “it cannot change the rules after the game had begun”.
Referring to the largely unnoticed court verdict, the CAG has said that by advancing the cut-off date for applications by a week from October 1, 2007, to September 25 , “the DoT restricted the number of applicants to 122. Going by the earlier deadline, the number would have been 465”.
Raising a red flag on the DoT’s first-come-first-served policy for the allocation of 2G spectrum to telecom operators instead of going for an auction, the CAG has charged the department with having indulged in favouritism, which cost the nation at least Rs 1.4 lakh crore.
“The policy was not transparent and the DoT had tipped off the firms in advance, as a result of which they had been able to arrange demand drafts worth Rs 1,650 crore in just 45 minutes to obtain pan-India licences,” says the apex auditor.
“Without an advanced notice and information, it would not have been possible for the five firms to be among the first to file their applications,” the CAG said.
It has also pointed out that the licences were allotted in January 2008 at the prices fixed in 2001, “which was completely unjustified, given that there were only 4 million mobile phone subscribers in 2001, a number that had risen to 300 million by 2008”.