The Justice Shivraj Patil committee, set up by the government to look into the award of telecom licenses and spectrum, has blamed guidelines put in place by the NDA regime for the 2G scam, which, the CAG says, cost the nation R1.76 lakh crore.
It has also indicted former telecom minister A Raja (without naming him) for advancing the cut-off date for grant of new licenses without sanction of law.
The one-man committee’s report, submitted to the government last week and released by communications & IT minister Kapil Sibal in the capital on Friday, found that all spectrum awarded to existing and new operators since November 2003 was done in violation of rules. “The report has been sent to the Central Bureau of Investigation for further action,” Sibal told the media.
The BJP, which had stalled the last session of Parliament demanding a joint parliamentary committee probe into the 2G scam, reacted strongly, accusing the government of trying to protect Raja.
The report says the TRAI had recommended in October 2003 that all spectrum be auctioned. The Union cabinet accepted this recommendation. However, on November 24 that year, the communications ministry approved procedures for grant of unified licences (which allowed fixed line operators into the more lucrative mobile market and vice versa) on a first-come-first-served (FCFS) basis.
"This was clearly a deviation from existing policies," the report says. Arun Shourie was telecom minister at that time.
This means all telecom companies were awarded spectrum in violation of procedures. The report also found fault with Raja. "Procedures formulated whereby the processing of applications for grant of unified access service licenses was restricted to only such applications that were received up to September 25, 2007, when the last date of receiving applications was stipulated as October 1, 2007. This is not traceable either to powers vested in terms of any procedure laid out or satisfies the requirements of law…," says the report.
"The BJP will come out with a comprehensive response after going through the contents of the report. This whole attempt is designed to bail out Raja and the illegalities committed by him," said BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad. “The NDA has nothing to hide. We have ourselves offered to let the JPC examine every allocation from 1998.”