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Raja, 11 others formally charged in 2G spectrum case

Saturday April 02, 2011 08:53:18 PM, IANS

New Delhi: Formal charges running into 127 pages, with over 80,000 sheets in annexure, were filed against former telecom minister A. Raja, eight other individuals and three firms on the allocation of second generation (2G) telecom spectrum. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Saturday filed the formal charges, brought in some seven steel boxes to the special court dealing with the probe agency, presided over by Judge O.P. Saini.

"I am satisfied that there is enough incriminating material on the record to proceed against the accused persons. I, accordingly, take cognizance of the case," Judge Saini said, and ordered summons to five of the nine accused not in judicial custody.

They have been asked to appear before the court by April 13.

Among those named are former communications minister A. Raja, his personal aide R.K. Chandolia, former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa, who are all in judicial custody.

They were physically produced before the court Saturday, as opposed to via video conference during the previous three-four occassions.

Also named were Swan director Vinod Goenka, Unitech Wireless director Sanjay Chandra and three officials from the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group -- Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara.

The charges were also filed against three companies, Unitech, Reliance and Swan Telecom.

The document before the court also contained the sanction to prosecute Chandolia, as was communicated by Economic Affairs Secretary A.K. Gopalan, on the basis of a probe by the anti-corruption branch of the investigating agency.

Unitech, the charges alleged, was ineligible for the licence, as the company did not have the necessary amendment in its memorandum and articles of association to enter the telecom business at that point of time.

According to an official investigating the matter, the three officials of the Reliance Anil Ambani Group were named for allegedly concealing the
in-eligibility of Swan Telecom for the grant of spectrum.

The charges said both the policy of first-come-first-served basis for allocation of the scarce radio frequency spectrum and the decision to advance the cut-off date to favour some stakeholders were with malafide intentions.

"The public is reminded the above findings are based on the investigation done by CBI and evidence collected by it," the probe agency said. "Under the Indian law, the accused are presumed to be innocent till their guilt is finally established after a fair trial."

The accused were charged under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, including cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy.

"We have 125 witnesses on whose information the agency has attached 654 documents to the chargesheet in the case. Out of them, the statements of seven-eight have been recorded. This provides concrete evidence," said a CBI official.

"In the entire episode, the government incurred a loss of Rs.30,984 crore. Our point of view is that Swan and Unitech telecom were two companies totally in-eligible for the spectrum and licence allocation," the official added.

"We are also investigating Kaliagnar TV, Asif Balwa and Rajiv Aggarwal, who are the directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables, and Cineyug and Green House promoters," said senior public prosecutor A.K. Singh, who was especially called from Guwahati.

"They are likely to be named in the supplementary charges that will be submitted by end-April," Singh said, adding, the name of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Private Ltd has since changed to Kusegaon Realty.

Regarding Raja's close associate Sadiq Batcha, who was found dead under mysterious circumstances at his Chennai home last month, the probe agency said that they were tracing the alleged kick-backs in the scam that could have been routed through him.

Raja had resigned Nov 14 as the communications minister after it came to light that the official auditor had accused that his policy on spectrum allocation had resulted in a loss of several billion dollars to the exchequer.

He was arrested by the probe agency in the national capital Feb 2, along with Behura and Chandolia, while Balwa was arrested from Pune on Feb 8.







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