In a clear indication that telecom minister A Raja will not be dropped from the cabinet in a hurry, the Centre on Thursday told Supreme Court there had been no wrongdoing of any kind in the allocation of 2G spectrum licences.
In an affidavit filed on behalf of the Union of India on Thursday, the department of telecommunications (DoT) said: “The DoT has throughout acted in public interest on the basis of policy determined by the government of India.”
The affidavit comes a day after the comptroller and auditor general submitted its report on the 2G spectrum sale, maintaining that the manner in which it was conducted had lost the exchequer R90,000-140,000 crore. The CAG report has slammed Raja for taking arbitrary decisions, ignoring the advice of the prime minister as well as the law and finance ministries on consultations before conducting the spectrum sale.
The crux of the allegation against Raja is that the spectrum was sold at a fixed price on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis to telecom operators and earned the government just R9,000 crore whereas, had it been auctioned, the sale would have raked in several times more.
Asserting that all decisions relating to the January 2008 allocation conformed to policy that had been followed since 1999, the affidavit questioned the CAG’s authority to
examine government policy decisions.
The DoT also noted that the CAG had raised the same questions about spectrum selling policy in 1999, but the Public Accounts Committee did not endorse them. “Successive governments followed the same policy, including the present minister A Raja," it added.
The court is hearing a public interest litigation maintaining that the sale of 2G spectrum had been a huge scam. The petitioners have demanded the court monitor the probe into the sale currently being carried out by the CBI, or should constitute its own special investigation team to look into it.
“All the points raised by the defence have already been considered and dismissed in the CAG report,” said Prashant Bhushan, the petitioners’ lawyer.
The SC, which has already questioned Raja’s continuance in the cabinet and pulled up the CBI for tardy progress in the probe, will take up the case again on November 15.