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JPC meets CBI officials, to call Maran on 2G spectrum

Wednesday June 08, 2011 02:18:34 AM, IANS

New Delhi: The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) will call Textile Minister and DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran to depose before it as the panel Tuesday met Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials for its probe into the 2G spectrum scam.

CBI director A.P. Singh and his two senior officials appeared before the panel to give it the probe agency's inputs related to its investigation into the scam, committee chairman P.C. Chacko told reporters.

Chacko said the CBI is also probing the alleged delay of two years in giving telecom licences to private firm Aircel when Maran was heading the telecom ministry.

Fourteen licences were issued to Aircel Maxis telecom firm in 2004 but the licences were given in 2006. "The CBI is probing why there was a delay," Chacko said.

Singh and his team briefed the panel about the "progress and findings" into the alleged irregularities into the 2G licence allocation in 2008.

He told reporters that Maran is among the former communication ministers to be called by the panel as witness.

Maran, who was the IT and communication minister from 2004 to 2007, has been in the news following allegations that he was involved in the 2G scam.

Sterling Group chairman C. Sivasankaran Monday accused Maran of forcing him to sell his stake in Aircel to Malaysian billionaire T. Anand Krishnan's company Maxis Communications Berhad.

Sivasankaran, who went to the CBI on his own initiative, told the agency that Krishnan invested $166 million in Sun Direct -- headed by Maran's brother Kalanithi.

Maran has denied Sivasankaran's accusations.

Chacko said the panel has shortlisted the names of 85 people to be called as witnesses before the committee. These include all communication ministers from 1998 to 2008, including jailed DMK leader Andimuthu Raja.

"Raja would be presented before the committee and authorities will present him," Chacko replied when asked if the panel had to seek court permission to question the former communication minister who is at the centre of the 2G storm.

The JPC is probing the scam that has already led to the imprisonment of another DMK leader - party patriarch Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi.

The scam related to the allocation of second generation airwaves to telecom companies, according to the government auditor's 2010 report, has caused the nation a presumptive loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore.

Chacko said those to be called before the panel include former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairmen, former heads of the telecom commission, former secretaries of telecom, 11 firms which benefited in 2008 and 22 private companies which got advantage due to 1999 telecom migration policy.

Chacko, however, said that the panel has not as yet decided if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or his predecessor Atal Behari Vajpayee would be called to testify before it.

The JPC is examining India's telecom pricing policy from 1998 to 2008 that covers the period during which Vajpayee was heading the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

The JPC was formed following persistent demands by the opposition after allegations surfaced of irregularities in the allocation of licences for second generation mobile telephony. Raja is alleged to have sold the scarce spectrum licences to private players at throwaway prices, causing huge financial loss to the nation.




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