The CBI on Saturday filed its first chargesheet in the 2G spectrum scam case against a shocked former telecom minister A Raja, eight other persons and three companies for causing a loss of R30,984 crore to the exchequer in the allocation of licences for airwaves.
The chargesheet filed in the court of special judge OP Saini accused Raja of conspiring with top bureaucrats, including a retired IAS officer, and corporate bigwigs to cause the huge loss to the government by manipulating the procedure for allocation of spectrum to favour companies such as, Reliance Telecom (of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group), Swan Telecom (now Etisalat DB Telecom) and the Unitech group.
Raja and the others have been charged with criminal conspiracy, forgery, cheating and corruption.
Along with Raja, the other accused named in the chargesheet are former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja’s former personal secretary RK Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, Unitech Wireless managing director Sanjay Chandra, Mumbai-based DB Realty’s director Vinod Goenka, Reliance Telecom’s group managing director Gautam Doshi and two of the company’s vice-presidents, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara.
The agency alleged that Etisalat DB Telecom and Telenor India partner Unitech were ineligible for 2G spectrum licences but Raja manipulated the rules to make them eligibile. “Raja manipulated the priority list on the basis of letter of intent compliances instead of existing guidelines,” the chargesheet said.
“On receipt of approval for allocation of dual technology spectrum, Reliance Telecom knowingly did not withdraw their fraudulent application for licence and, in conspiracy with accused Sahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka, transferred the management and control of Swan Telecom to them,” the chargesheet said.
In what could be seen as a breather for the DMK at a time when it faces assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, the chargesheet does not mention party patriarch and state chief minister M Karunanidhi’s daughter and Rajya Sabha Memeber of Parliament Kanimozhi, who was questioned by the CBI in the case.
Attorney-general GE Vahanvati and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia have been named among 125 witnesses in the case. This will be the first time the country’s top-most law officer will appear as a witness in a corruption case. Raja, Behura, Chandolia and Balwa are in jail while the other accused have not been arrested.
Saini, who took cognisance of the chargesheet, issued summons to the accused who have not yet been arrested to appear before him on April 13.
The agency alleged that in order to favour Unitech and Swan, Raja unilaterally advanced the cut-off date for accepting their applications for grant of licences and ignored the advice of the telecom regulatory authority, the law ministry and the Prime Minister’s office. The chargesheet and accompanying documents, running into about 80,000 pages, were brought in seven steel trunks by CBI officials to the special court constituted exclusively to try the case being monitored by the Supreme Court.
Raja and all the other arrested men in the case were present in court during the proceedings.