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BJP's Pramod Mahajan told 'half-truths' about Vodafone, Airtel, says CBI

Nov 08 2012, 17:41 IST
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CBI claims Pramod Mahajan, who was the Telecom Minister during NDA rule, had apparently told 'half truth' to Defence Minister George Fernandes about additional spectrum. CBI claims Pramod Mahajan, who was the Telecom Minister during NDA rule, had apparently told 'half truth' to Defence Minister George Fernandes about additional spectrum.
SummaryAgency claims additional spectrum was allocated without coordination with Defence agencies.

Additional spectrum beyond 6.2 Mhz was allotted during the late Telecom Minister Pramod Mahajan's tenure to cellular operators Airtel, Vodafone and Idea without due coordination with Defence agencies, CBI has claimed in a probe report.

In its report to the Law Ministry, CBI also claimed that Mahajan, who was the Telecom Minister during the BJP-led NDA rule, had apparently told "half-truths" to Defence Minister George Fernandes that additional spectrum up to 8 Mhz to cellular operators was assigned only after due coordination with Joint Communication and Electronic Staff (JCES).

The report which was sent to Law Ministry seeking opinion of the Attorney General whether a criminal case was made out against the accused companies, mentions exchange of communication between the then Ministers Mahajan and Fernandes over the issue of grant of additional spectrum and coordination with Defence Services.

In a letter to Mahajan on July 4, 2002, Fernandes had flagged the issue of co-ordination of frequency spectrum with the Defence Services, CBI sources said today.

They said the letter was purportedly received by Mahajan's office after 15 days and by that time additional spectrum had already been allocated to Bharti Cellular and Sterling Cellular (now Vodafone) in Delhi and Hutch in Mumbai.

CBI sources said Fernandes had written that Telecom Ministry had gone ahead by receiving spectrum fees/charges from the new cellular operators without proper coordination on a case-to-case and place to place at many locations.

Mahajan in his reply to Fernandes said frequencies had been assigned only after coordination with the defence services.

"The facts, however, show that it was half truth. The DOT actually wrote to JCES that it was going to allocate spectrum on trial basis in a few days and if no response was received from JCES that spectrum would be allocated to respective companies," CBI claimed in its report.

CBI claimed that investigation had revealed that the additional spectrum beyond 6.2 Mhz was allotted to the companies even without due coordination by the JCES. CBI had sent the report to Law Ministry seeking advice of the Attorney General in the case of alleged irregularities inawarding extra spectrum to Airtel and Vodafone after difference in opinion over whether a case against the telecom giants was made out or not.

A group of officials believed a case against the two telecom companies was made out as they were only beneficiaries of the laid down policy while another team of officials involved in decision-making had

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