Swan Telecom was “not eligible” for 2G licence: Niira Radia tells court

PTI New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on May 28, 2013

A file photo of Niira Radia

Appearing in the court for the first time, former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia today said she felt that Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd “was not eligible” to get the 2G Spectrum licences as it was said to belong to Reliance ADAG group company Reliance Communications.

Testifying as a prosecution witness in CBI court in the case, she said that during the time of grant of spectrum, there was a very strong public perception that Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd was not eligible.

Swan Telecom’s promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka are facing trial in the case.

“During the time of grant of spectrum, there was a very strong public perception created by the media of eligibility and non-eligibility. Through the public perception and advice of Tata advocates, I came to know that this company (Swan Telecom) was not eligible,” Radia told Special CBI Judge O.P Saini.

During her examination-in-chief by the CBI prosecutor, she told the court that at the time of grant of licences, dossiers were in circulation which said Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd belonged to Reliance Communications.

“At that time, there were dossiers in circulation that the company (Swan Telecom) belonged to Reliance Communications, though I do not have any authentic or personal knowledge,” she said.

Radia said her public relations company was advising Tatas on telecom matters and Tata Teleservices Ltd had applied for dual technology licences in 2007.

Spectrum for Tata Communications

Radia told the court that Tata Teleservices was granted a dual technology licence in 2008 but it did not get the spectrum.

“Tata Teleservices was advised that they were in the queue and would be granted spectrum as and when it would be available. I was coordinating the telecom matters with the Tatas and was not acting in this field singly. Tata Teleservices had applied for dual technology spectrum for Delhi service area also.”

On this, the CBI prosecutor asked Radia, “Could you please tell the court as to what was the number of Tata Teleservices in the queue for dual technology spectrum in Delhi service area?”

Responding to the query, Radia said, “I was not aware of their number for dual technology spectrum in Delhi service area. However, there was enough correspondence between Tatas and Department of Telecommunications (DoT) saying that TTSL was ahead in the queue by virtue of their dual technology licence. They were existing CDMA operators.”

The CBI prosecutor asked Radia to explain as to why TTSL was not granted spectrum in Delhi service area despite being ahead of other applicants.

“Tata Teleservices did not get the spectrum first as it was advised by DoT that it was not ahead of others. TTSL was advised by DoT orally. Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd had got spectrum in Delhi service area. Reliance Communications had also got the spectrum,” she said.

Radia also told the court that TTSL had opposed the allocation of spectrum to Swan Telecom and Reliance Communications but they were advised that they were in the queue and as and when spectrum would be available they would get it.

The court has deferred recording of her statement to July 2.

CBI chargesheet

CBI, in its charge sheet filed on April 2, 2011 against former Telecom Minister A Raja and others, had named Radia as a prosecution witness in the case.

Radia appeared in the court today three months after she was asked on December 2 last year to testify as a CBI witness.

She had sought three months’ time on the grounds that she had undergone a surgery for a neurological ailment.

Radia’s statement assumes significance as she, in her statement recorded during the probe under section 161 of the CrPC (dealing with examination of witnesses) before CBI, had said that Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, facing trial in the 2G case, was not “eligible” to get the Unified Access Service (UAS) Licences.

“Regarding M/s Swan Telecom, which was the only applicant to get the spectrum in Delhi circle, I would like to state that M/s Swan Telecom as applicant was not even eligible for getting a UAS licence, in view of the cross holding clause.

“To the best of my understanding it was controlled entirely by M/s Reliance Communications,” Radia had told CBI in her statement recorded by the agency on December 21, 2010.

The CBI, in its charge sheet, had alleged that Reliance Telecom Ltd (RTL), an accused in the case, used Swan Telecom, an ineligible firm, as its front company to get licences and the costly radio waves.

Swan Telecom and its promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, RTL and three top executives of Reliance ADAG – Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair, along with others, are facing trial for their alleged roles in the case.

During the probe into the case, Radia had told CBI that she had talked to DMK MP Kanimozhi, also an accused in the 2G case, after the 2009 general elections.

In her statement recorded by the CBI on January 29, 2011, Radia had refuted the allegation that she had approached Kanimozhi to get Telecom Ministry for Raja in the Cabinet.

“During the discussion with Kanimozhi when she was in Delhi, we discussed the likely candidature from DMK for the Cabinet. As I remember, A Raja was not interested in the Telecom Ministry.

“Neither I approached Kanimozhi to get A Raja the Ministry of Telecom nor was I that competent for that big task,” she had told the agency.

She had also told the CBI that former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran had “created a lot of problems to Tata Group” and thus, she was concerned about his portfolio as Tatas were a client of her PR agency.

Radia had got the contract from Tatas for public relation work which she carried out through her Vaishnavi Corporate Communications Pvt Ltd.

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Published on May 28, 2013
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