In court today, A Raja, former Telecom Minister, said the Prime Minister and then Finance Minister P Chidambaram were aware of the decisions that have landed him in jail.
Mr Raja was arrested in November for selling mobile network licenses and 2G spectrum while he was Telecom Minister in 2008 to companies that were ineligible. A spin-off from the alleged scam is that two of those companies – Unitech Wireless and DB Realty – then sold equity to foreign companies – Telenor in the case of Unitech and Etisalat in the case of DB Realty. The Indian companies made huge profits – they had been sold the licenses at throwaway rates, but were able to sell them at huge mark-ups, leading to the conclusion that they had profited at the cost of the government.
“Where is the crime? Where is the conspiracy? Telenor buying a stake in Unitech Wireless and Etisalat buying a stake in DB Realty was totally legal as per the corporate law. The Finance Minister approved the sale in the presence of the PM. Let the Prime Minister deny it,” said Mr Raja in court today.
Mr Raja has been questioned about why he decided against auctioning spectrum instead of awarding licenses on a first-come-first-serve basis. “If the policy pursued by me was wrong, then all former Telecom Ministers since 1993 should also be jail with me,” said Mr Raja in a Delhi court this morning.
Like his party, the DMK, Mr Raja has stressed that he followed the policies introduced by his predecessors in the NDA government that was in power till 2004, when the UPA coalition was elected.
Mr Raja said, “As Telecom Minster Arun Shourie distributed 26 licences while Dayanidhi Maran distributed 25 and I (Raja) distributed 122 licences. Numbers make no difference, however, it is to be noted that none of them auctioned the spectrum. If they had done no wrong, why am I being questioned? Let them deny that they have not done what I did. I was just following the 2003 Cabinet decision that is not to auction 2G spectrum. If I am following the law, I am not liable to be prosecuted. In fact, I should be rewarded.”