Former telecom minister A Raja will base his defence on trying to shift the responsibility of the 2G spectrum scam on the cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA), which includes the Prime Minister and the finance and home ministers, among several others.
The CBI countered Raja’s claim by saying that he acted alone and didn’t even follow the instructions of the prime minister’s office (PMO).The agency has five more days of custody of Raja and his aides, arrested on Wednesday for allegedly manipulating
procedures while allocating unified access service (UAS) licences and 2G spectrum to favour a few telecom firms.
All three were produced before a special CBI court on Thursday and the agency moved an application seeking custodial interrogation of the three for five days. The CBI justified its demand for custody, saying it needed to examine some very important witnesses and confront the accused later.
Raja aide Siddhartha Behura’s lawyer didn’t oppose the custody demand, as he said his client had nothing to hide. Behura was department of telecom (DoT) secretary when the rules for granting 2G licences were bent.
The CBI also alleged that Raja, Behura and RK Chandolia (Raja’s PS) entered into a criminal conspiracy to favour Swan Telecom and a group of eight companies owned by Unitech.
"Favour was shown to some applicants by way of leaking information about the date of issuance of letters of intent. The licences were issued in 2008 at a very nominal rate fixed in 2001.”
But Raja’s defence was that since telecom was part of the infrastructure sector, it should not be seen purely as a revenue generator.
To maintain competitiveness in the sector, the DoT had to keep the price lower.
The CBI argued that the DoT had issued a press release saying it would receive applications till October 1, 2007. But while considering the applications, the DoT advanced the cut-off date to September 25, 2007. Thus, a large number of applicants were left out as their applications reached the department between September 26, 2007 and October 1, 2007. “None of these applications were considered for allotment of unified access service licence.”