The CBI has been asked to probe the alleged scam in the allotment of second generation telecom spectrum licences that rocked Parliament a year ago.
The country’s top anti corruption watchdog, the Central Vigilance Commission has referred the matter to the CBI after it found "irregularities" in the allotment made by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in January 2008. "We have asked for a CBI probe. We feel it calls for further investigation," Vigilance Commissioner Sudhir Kumar told Hindustan Times.
The CVC, asked to probe the matter after the Opposition uproar, found the process followed "completely subjective and subject to serious manipulation". It said the DoT was selective in following existing norms.
Five new operators were allotted licences - and the required spectrum - last year at fixed prices on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Critics maintained that had global bids been called for and the spectrum auctioned, the government would have earned much more.
Among the first to raise the matter -- in a letter to the prime minister last November -- was CPM Politburo member Sitaram Yechury. Urging the prime minister to cancel all the licences he gave examples to show how some of the allottees had benefited excessively from the deal.
One of the allottees, for instance, Swan Telecom, which paid the DoT just Rs 1,537 crore, divested 45 per cent of the stake to another foreign telecom operator Etisalat a few months later for a whopping Rs 4,195 crore.
Telecom minister A. Raja, who held the same position in the earlier UPA regime too has, however, denied all allegations of any "wrongdoing".