The role of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in allowing the 2G spectrum scam is now under the government’s scanner even as CBI sleuths search for details of irregularities from bureaucrats who questioned A Raja.
The telecom ministry under Kapil Sibal may probe why the TRAI allowed former minister Raja to manipulate eligibility criteria in the spectrum allocation that is estimated to have cost the exchequer R1,76,000 crore.
Sibal on Thursday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and joined a core committee meet of the Congress at the PM’s residence, to discuss the scam and the government’s strategy to tackle the political backlash it is facing.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report tabled in Parliament, had blamed the TRAI for remaining a “mute and helpless” spectator while the eligibility criteria were being doctored. The TRAI is the watchdog in charge of ensuring fair play in the telecom sector.
“We are not passing any judgement. But the TRAI’s role can no longer be ignored.
The review of its role will be internal. But it is critical to examine if an independent regulator like the TRAI failed in its job,” a senior government source said.
CBI sleuths investigating the scam said they had established that to former telecom secretary DS Mathur and member (finance) in telecom commission Manju Madhavan were clean and had in fact differed with Raja’s plan to allocate spectrum on first-cum-first-serve basis. Madhavan took voluntary retirement after Raja officially penned adverse remarks against her. They have already been questioned.
The CBI hopes leads it receives from its interrogation, and evidence it receives from different departments — including transcripts of conversations with lobbyist Niira Radia — will lead it on to the money trail that establishes if and how Raja personally benefited from the allocation of 2G spectrum. Raja will be questioned only once a money trail linking him to the scam is established, sources said.
Sources also confirmed that Raja’s former private secretary RK Chandolia also under the scanner of CBI apart from few other officials of the department of telecommunication.