The Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) has rubbished Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) report — that there was no loss to the government in awarding 2G spectrum to new telecom operators on the first-come-first-served basis (FCFS) — as replete with contradictions.
The CBI, which has sought a review from the regulator, spared no punches in pointing out records where the TRAI had recommended policy prescriptions favouring a multi-stage market based bidding or auctioning system for grant of licence and scarce telecommunication spectrum on at least seven occasions since 2003.
“The attention of TRAI is drawn to the contradictions and facts and TRAI is requested to revert on the issue after considering the facts,” CBI deputy inspector general SK Palsania wrote in a strongly worded missive on August 29 to TRAI secretary RK Arnold, citing the instances where the regulator’s latest position appeared to be a volte-face of sorts with its other stated positions.
This was in response to a letter by TRAI written nine days ago where the telecom regulator said that that “telecom services and spectrum should not be treated as a source of revenue for the government.”
“TRAI did not recommend auction methodology, nor did it recommend any increase in the entry fee for new operators,” Arnold had written in a letter to Palsania on August 20.
The CBI has submitted both the letters in the court of Special Judge OP Saini, who is trying the case.
The turn of events has threatened to take the steam out of the most high-profile corruption case in the country’s history — valued at as much as Rs176,000 crore by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India — in which a former cabinet minister A Raja, a former secretary S Behura and promoters and executives of top companies, and politicians are behind bars in Delhi’s Tihar jail.