Prime Edition

Raja to name PM during court trial

Prime minister Manmohan Singh (Left) and A Raja (Right)

ormer Telecom Minister A. Raja is likely to defend himself in the 2G case by arguing that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in the know of all his decisions regarding the allocation of spectrum in 2008. The defence may begin only after the CBI completes its probe, as Raja said in court on Friday, to ensure that any information he provides is not used against him in the agency's next chargesheet.

One of the key elements of his defence is expected to be a letter Raja had written to the Prime Minister on 26 December 2007, a fortnight before the allocation in January 2008. Quoting a letter written by Raja many months after the allocation on 7 November 2008, the Opposition BJP is already pressing for investigation of the role played by Home Minister P. Chidambaram as the then Finance Minister in the 2G scam in facilitating a "cover-up".

Raja's letter to the PM, D.O. No. 260/M(C&IT)/VIP/2007, begins by significantly stressing the point that besides the correspondence, there have also been "personal discussions" with the PM on "issues related to telecom sector".Image 2nd

Raja listed his decisions in an annexure to the letter to the PM which included the controversial first-cum-first-served policy for issuing Letter of Intent to the applicants for the licences. The PM had acknowledged the receipt of this correspondence on 3 January 2008, days before the decisions were implemented.

On the issue of Letter of Intent, Raja states in the letter, "DOT follows a policy of First-cum-First Served for granting LOI to the applicants for UAS licence, which means, an application received first will be processed first and if found eligible will be granted LOI."

"The First-cum-First served policy is also applicable for grant of licence on compliance of LOI conditions," the letter stated. "Therefore, any applicant who complies with the conditions of LOI first will be granted UAS licence first."

"This issue never arose in the past as at one point of time only one application was processed and LOI was granted and enough time was given to him for compliance of conditions of LOI. However, since the government has adopted a policy of 'No Cap' on number of UAS licences, a large number of LOI's are proposed to be issued simultaneously."

"In these circumstances, an applicant who fulfils the conditions of LOI first will be granted licence first, although several applicants will be issued LOI simultaneously. The same has been concurred by the Solicitor General of India during the discussions," the letter states.

"Since the file for issue of LOI to all eligible applicants was approved by me on 2-11-2007," Raja states in the letter, "it is proposed to implement the decision without further delay and without any departure from existing guidelines."

The PM's acknowledgement of the letter on 3 January 2008, states that he had received the letter "regarding recent developments in the telecom sector".

Raja, according to his legal team, may rely on these letters to prove that the decisions on 2G were "not taken exclusively" by him.

In this letter, Raja also refers to one of the crucial TRAI recommendations. "The recommendations of TRAI were received by DOT on 29-08-2007 which suggested that 'No cap be placed on the number of access service providers in any service area'."

"This recommendation was accepted by the department on 17-10-2007 in order to encourage more competition in the telecom sector and decided to grant new UAS licences," the letter added.

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