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63 accused in 2G scam?

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The last week saw rapid developments in the investigations into India’s largest scam to date.

Mar 1, 2011

TOI reported that CBI may want investigate a large number of people:

Sixty-three persons, including promoters and CEOs of 10 telecom firms have come under its scanner in the 2G spectrum case, the CBI on Tuesday told the Supreme Court which expressed satisfaction over the ongoing probe.

The central government, which is also party to the case, informed a bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly that it is in favour of setting up a special court to try the accused in the 2G case and the law minister has written a letter to the Delhi high court chief justice asking him to constitute a court and identify a judge for this purpose.

Mar 2, 2011

Even as the image of the Tata group seems set to be dragged through mud, they appealed for in-camera hearings. TOI reported the reasons behind this:

The Tatas have sought in-camera hearings of the 2G scam. The request was made by Tata counsel Harish Salve on Tuesday who asked the Supreme Court for hearings away from the public and media after a petitioner accused the Tata group of wrong-doings.

“The court may consider holding in-camera proceedings as petitioner’s counsel Prashant Bhushan is making allegations based on some source information which gets highlighted in the media,” Salve said while placing his request before a Bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly.

Earlier, Prashant Bhushan alleged that Tata Realty had played a key role in financing several players through Unitech to get spectrum. He said, “As per the Justice Shivraj Patil report, Tatas were not entitled to get spectrum as they had applied for it only on October 22, 2007 and stood at the end of the queue under the first come first served principle.”

He added: “However, they were allotted spectrum under the dual technology escape route and there was a quid pro quo when they gave a large chunk of land to A Raja’s party DMK. This has come to light in the Radia tapes.”

Mar 3, 2011

TOI reported:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday called for all correspondence between Department of Telecom (DoT) and mobile phone service provider S-Tel after it was alleged that the company was arm-twisted in 2010 to drop its opposition to alleged arbitrary change in policy.

During the hearing on PILs seeking cancellation of all 122 spectrum licences, a Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly was told the cancellation order became a tool to arm-twist S-Tel into a compromise.

DoT’s March 5, 2010 order cancelling S-Tel’s licences forced the company to agree to the government’s offer in the Supreme Court that it would wait till additional spectrum was available.

The bench also permitted Swamy to place on record a home ministry report against Etisalat DB Telecom Limited, raising security concerns because of Etisalat’s presence in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

On the basis of this report, the finance ministry too raised an objection with DB Realty Group owner Shahid Balwa, who has challenged the home ministry finding in the Delhi HC. Etisalat’s counsel, senior advocate Harish Salve, said, “The initial investment came through foreign direct investment route. Those facts are on record. I believe further investment required Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance and there was some objection raised by the government. But that applied to Balwa against which he has filed a petition in HC.”

Elsewhere, TOI reported the two weeks’ extension of Raja’s remand:

A Delhi court today extended the judicial custody of former Telecom Minister A Raja and three others, arrested for their alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, till March 17.

Raja appeared before the court through video conferencing while his former Personal Secretary R K Chandolia, former Telecom Secretary Siddarth Behura and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa were present in person after the expiry of their judicial custody.

Special CBI Judge O P Saini extended the judicial custody of the trio after hearing their arguments.

Mar 4, 2011

Zee News reports:

Senior Congress member PC Chacko was on Friday made the Chairman of the JPC on the 2G spectrum issue, setting in motion the probe into what the opposition is alleging as the biggest scam in independent India.

65-year old Chacko, who represents Thrissur in Kerala in the Lok Sabha, was appointed the head of the 30-member high level panel by Speaker Meira Kumar, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told reporters.

The JPC, having 20-members from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha, came into being a few days back, ending three-months of deadlock in Parliament between the government and the opposition, which latched on to a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General late last year which spoke of a presumed loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.

The two Houses of Parliament have passed resolutions approving the setting up of the JPC.

The JPC will examine irregularities and aberrations, if any, in the implementation of government decisions and policy prescriptions on telecom licences and spectrum from 1998 to 2009.

The Parliamentary panel will also make recommendations to ensure appropriate procedures for allocation and pricing of telecom licences.

It will examine policy prescriptions and their interpretation by successive governments, including the decisions of the Union Cabinet and the consequences thereof, in the allocation and pricing of licences and spectrum.


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