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Govt gropes for 2G answers

delhi Updated: Nov 02, 2010 00:00 IST
Nagendar Sharma

Faced with a difficult position in the 2G spectrum scam with the Supreme Court questioning the continuance of telecom minister A Raja in the Union cabinet, the government is searching for an elusive answer on who gave the go-ahead for the policy.

The top law officers representing the government would have to do quite a bit of explaining before the Supreme Court on November 15, the next date of hearing about the progress of CBI investigation into the R1.40 lakh crore scam.

Raja has so far consistently maintained that he had kept the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and even the cabinet informed, a point reiterated by his lawyer in the apex court on Friday.

This argument, however, has been rejected by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its draft report, providing fresh ammunition to the Opposition ahead of the winter session of Parliament.

“Since there was a difference of opinion between the law and telecom ministries regarding referring the issue to a Group of Ministers (GoM), it should have been sent to the cabinet for decision. This was, however, not done,” states the latest draft of the CAG report.

The replies by department of telecom to the CAG show it did not want to seek any clearance from the cabinet for the policy.

Official documents obtained under the Right to Information by transparency activists also contradict Raja’s version. An exchange of letters between Raja, law ministry and PMO in November 2007 show Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had instructed him to ensure transparency in spectrum allocation.

“I would request you to give urgent consideration to the issues with a view to ensure fairness and transparency and let me know of the position before you take a decision,” Singh wrote to Raja on November 2, 2007.

After having assured Singh of taking all appropriate steps in his reply the same day, Raja shot off another letter to the PM on December 26, 2007, saying he has decided to go ahead with the 2G spectrum allocation.

“The discussions with the external affairs minister and the solicitor general of India have further enlightened me to take a pre-emptive and proactive decision,” Raja stated.