2G: Finance Ministry note casts shadow on Chidambaram's role

Arun S. New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

Mr P Chidambaram

The Ministry of Finance had implicitly agreed to impose the same entry fee as that which prevailed in 2001 for 2G spectrum licences allotted up to December 31, 2008.

This has been brought out in a document — prepared by the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) dated March 25, 2011— that was submitted to the Supreme Court on Wednesday by the Janata Party President, Dr Subramanian Swamy.

The current Home Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, was the Finance Minister in 2008 when the 2G spectrum was allocated during the tenure of the then Telecom Minister, Mr A. Raja.

Interestingly, the DEA document on the allocation and pricing of 2G spectrum — which was also sent to the Prime Minister's Office — states, “This has been seen by the Finance Minister (Mr Pranab Mukherjee).”

Dr Swamy wants the apex court to direct the CBI to investigate Mr Chidambaram's alleged role and file a status report to the court. However, the CBI has opposed Dr Swamy's plea.

According to the CBI chargesheet in the 2G case, Mr Raja — despite repeated suggestions from various Government agencies — deliberately and dishonestly did not consider auction or revision of entry fee and gave away licences in 2008 at the same fee which was discovered through auction in 2001. This, the CBI said, had deprived the exchequer of possible revenues amounting to Rs 30,984.55 crore.

The Finance Ministry document submitted by Dr Swamy says “The note of the Finance Minister did not deal with the need, if any, to revise entry fee or the rate of revenue share… ”

“Subsequently, in a meeting held on January 30, 2008, between the then Minister of Finance and (the then Minister of) Telecommunications, it was noted by the former that he was for now not seeking to revisit the current regimes for entry fee or revenue share,” it adds.

“MoF raised the issue of updating the entry fee albeit only for the licences allotted after January 1, 2009,” the document said.

Published on September 21, 2011

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