Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati told the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on spectrum allocations that former Telecom Minister A. Raja had belied his trust on the issue of deleting one paragraph in the final press release issued before the selection process for 2G spectrum licences.

Vahanvati, who appeared before the JPC here on Tuesday, alleged that the Telecom Ministry had altered the press note approved by him and issued in 2008, ahead of the selection process. He said no legal counsel was tendered to the Ministry on changing the “first-come-first-served” policy.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, the JPC Chairman P.C. Chacko said Vahanvati told the panel that the change in the ‘first-come-first-served’ policy was never discussed with him by Raja.

“Vahanvati said he offered his opinion to the then Telecom Secretary on the four-paragraph press release shown to him on the premise of trust, but his trust was belied,” he said.

Chacko added that Vahanvati said he was not aware of the deletion of one paragraph in the final press release issued. “The amendment in the release led to the qualitative change in the selection process,” Chacko said, quoting Vahanvati.

The Attorney General told the panel that though the Government did not seek any comments on the policy, the ‘first-come-first-served’ policy was not illegal per se. He said he had mentioned this aspect in a note that was sent to the Group of Ministers headed by the then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Report in March

Chacko said the JPC would soon start writing the report as the gathering of evidence had reached the final stage. He hinted that the panel was unlikely to call Ministers or sitting MPs for recording evidences. “The panel will wrap up its evidence gathering exercise and start preparing the draft of the report,” he said, and added that the report could be submitted by the end of March so that the House could discuss the report in the second half of the Budget session.

Meanwhile, Central Bureau of Investigation Director Ranjit Sinha is to appear before the JPC next week, along with Telecom Secretary R. Chandrasekhar to corroborate the evidence collected by the panel so far.

jigeesh.am@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 5, 2013)
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