The former communications minister and BJP stalwart Pramod Mahajan reversed his own order in allotting additional spectrum (beyond 6.2 MHz and up to 10 MHz) to cellular mobile operators, according to the FIR filed by CBI on November 19 against Bharti Airtel and Vodafone and two government officials.
There was unjustified urgency in the way the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) awarded additional spectrum to Airtel and Vodafone in the 900-MHz band at half the prescribed fee (1% of gross revenue rather than 2%).The FIR shows the haste with which the decision to allot additional spectrum was taken in a day. On January, 31, 2002, JR Gupta, a deputy director general of DoT, said in a note that the operators be given additional spectrum as some of them had reached five lakh subscribers in Delhi and Mumbai.
This was against recommendations of a technical committee report, which suggested that the operators did not need additional spectrum for two-three years, and should instead invest on existing network and use spectrum more efficiently.
On Gupta’s note, DoT secretary Shyamal Ghosh wrote that for additional spectrum DoT should charge only 1% (instead of 2%) of the gross revenue as additional fee.
Mahajan signed the note on the same day.