CAG draft report nails Raja role in 2G scam

published on August 31, 2010

NEW DELHI: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has submitted damning details of communications and IT minister A Raja’s involvement in the controversial 2G spectrum allocation of January 2008. It has found his approval and signatures in almost all key decisions that resulted in nine telecom companies being allotted spectrum without transparent procedures.

In a case where allegations have been levelled that spectrum was allocated at vastly undervalued prices and that some companies seemed to have an inside track on developments, CAG’s draft report and key documents are now with Raja’s ministry, awaiting explanations before the audit report can be finalized.

The documents were sent to the communications ministry in the third week of July. The ministry, which was quick to respond to CAG’s initial observations, has now sought six weeks from the audit agency. When the initial draft report reached the ministry, it offered standard explanations within a few days.

But now CAG has sent its entire set of key documents running into a few hundred pages that allegedly prove Raja’s direct involvement in the decisions. The communications ministry, meanwhile, has obtained a law ministry opinion saying the CAG could not question policy decisions.

While issues like first-come, first-served can be said to be policy decisions, this may not be enough for Raja to defend himself if details of the CAG audit accessed by TOI are anything to go by. Raja was not available for comment, despite calls and text messages to his phone from TOI.

-Raja’s approval to almost all controversial decisions of the 2G spectrum allocation includes:

-Personally approving issue of the now infamous press release on January 10, 2008, on first-come-first-served basis for allocation of licences, and giving operators just an hour’s window to deposit demand drafts between 3.30 and 4.30pm. The press release also advanced the cutoff date for submission of applications to September 25, 2007.

-Instruction to issue the controversial press release was given on the same day, January 10. Raja approved and cleared the noting for the allocation of 2G spectrum to all nine companies.

-Raja personally decided on various cutoff dates in 2007, and later in January 2008, which favoured select companies.

-First-come, first-served was never DoT policy for granting licences, contrary to Raja’s claims. It was policy only for release of spectrum after licences were granted.

In its own sober style, the CAG audit deepens the taint on allocation of 2G spectrum. The auditor has found that operators who benefited were able to arrange and submit high-value demand drafts within 45 minutes of the press release being uploaded.

Read more: CAG draft report nails Raja role in 2G scam – India – The Times of India

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