2G spectrum case: Court asks CBI for more documents

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New Delhi:

The CBI was today directed by a Delhi court to place before it the documents relating to the resolution passed by three companies, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, for seeking additional spectrum during the NDA regime.

The court told the CBI that these telecom firms must have approached the government first for seeking additional spectrum and they must have also passed a resolution in this regard.

"These companies must have approached the government (for additional spectrum). Where is the resolution? Show me those documents," special CBI judge O.P. Saini said.

The court, which was scheduled to consider on taking cognizance of the charge sheet filed against Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and others for alleged irregularities in allocation of additional spectrum to them during the NDA regime, posted the matter for further arguments on February 19.

During the brief hearing, the court told the agency that spectrum is a "costly resource" and the companies must have passed a resolution before seeking additional spectrum from the Department of Telecom (DoT).

"These companies must have resolved that we want additional spectrum. You (CBI) are saying Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) was pursuing their (the three companies) case with the DoT. You (CBI) show me the documents," it said.

The CBI had on December 21 last year filed a charge sheet in which former telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms -- Bharti Cellular Ltd, Hutchison Max Pvt Ltd (now known as Vodafone India Ltd) and Sterling Cellular Ltd (now known as Vodafone Mobile Service Ltd) -- have been named as accused.

In the 57-page charge sheet, the CBI has booked all the accused for the offences of criminal conspiracy (120-B) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

During the hearing, the judge also told the agency that the case is about the pricing dispute over additional spectrum and they should file the documents relating to the passing of any such resolution by these companies.

"You (CBI) show me the documents when these companies had resolved to seek additional spectrum. These documents are not there," the court said and posted the matter for February 19 after the CBI sought one week time for it.

The CBI had on January 30 told the court that they had filed 143 sets of documents related to the case and the prosecutor needs some time to go through them.

The court had allowed the CBI's plea and had taken on record these documents.

The CBI, in its December 21, 2012, charge sheet has named the three telecom companies as accused in the case in which the DoT had allegedly allocated additional spectrum resulting in a loss of Rs 846 crore to the exchequer.

The court had earlier also deferred the order on the issue after the CBI had submitted they need over two weeks' time to file some more documents before it.

The CBI has not named Jagdish Rai Gupta, a former Deputy Director General (VAS) cell of DoT and a former Director of BSNL, who was named in the FIR, as accused in the case saying "no evidence attributing any criminality on his part or his involvement in the alleged offence has surfaced during the investigation".

Regarding Ghosh, the CBI had said that in conspiracy with the then telecom minister Pramod Mahajan and accused telecom firms, he had abused his official position to show undue favour to the companies causing a loss of Rs 846.44 crore to the exchequer.

The CBI, in its charge sheet, had said that the decision regarding allocation of additional spectrum to these telecom firms was taken in "undue haste" in pursuance of the conspiracy hatched amongst Mahajan, Ghosh and these companies.

Story first published on: February 11, 2013 16:10 (IST)

Tags: 2G spectrum, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, 2G auction, DoT

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