Column : And now, Raja misleads the AG!

Written by Rishi Raj | Updated: Mar 22 2011, 08:42am hrs
Dear Mr Vahanvati,

You made a startling revelation in the course of an interview to a TV news channel last week. The essential points made by you in the interview were: that the controversial DoT press release of January 10, 2008, from where the 2G spectrum scam really begins, has been tampered with as per forensic evidence presented by the CBI; that you had not seen the press release, after it was issued on January 10, till it was brought to your notice recently during the hearing in the Supreme Court and then by the CBI; that the legal opinion sought by the DoT vide its letter of October 26, 2007 was between the DoT, law secretary and the then law minister, HR Bhardwaj and you were never in the picture and, therefore, had no idea whatsoever. I am not so foolish as to change the views expressed by my minister, is what you said.

Sir, since you have finally decided to speak on your role in the entire matter now, I have a few queries arising from your responses in the interview, seen in the context of the documents in public domain now, courtesy the Patil Committee report. Your answers to them would help because there seems to be huge gaps between your statements and what the files show.

* If you had not seen the press release till recently, how did you defend the DoTs case against S-Tel before the single and division bench of the Delhi High Court as well as in the Supreme Court

I ask this because S-Tel went to the court basically on the situation arising out of the press release of January 10. The Delhi High court order, which struck down the cut-off date as illegal (the cut-off date was announced in the press release), had cited the press release in detail in its judgement in section 32, page 18/19. You later appealed against the order in the Supreme Court. Why did you did not point out then or protest that the release was at variance with what you had approved Further, the press release was also reproduced on page 63 of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Surely as the governments lawyer in the matter you must have seen all this

* Assuming that the press release was tampered with and you did not know about it, did the expunged part make any material difference to the final press release that appeared

The last paragraph, which was removed, said, However, if more than one applicant complies with LoI condition on the same date, the inter-se seniority would be decided by the date of application. This does not seem to be relevant since the change in the first-come-first-served (FCFS) decision was in the second last para, which has been retained as it isDoT has been implementing a policy of FCFS for grant of UAS licences under which, initially, an application which is received first will be processed first and, thereafter, if found eligible will be granted LoI and then who so ever complies with the conditions of LoI first will be granted UAS licenceisnt this paragraph more relevant than the one that was deleted

* You may have not seen the press release but what about the file that was sent to youyou noted that you had read itwhich contained all the decisions of the DoT regarding licensing The press release was nothing but an accumulation of decisions made by A Raja. The file was sent to you on January 7, 2008three days before the scam. All key decisions that led up to the press release are included in the file, which was approved by you. You have noted in your own words on January 7, 2008, I have seen the notes. The issue regarding new LoIs are not before any court. What is proposed is fair and reasonable. The press release makes for transparency. This seems to be in order. Is it fair and proper for you to now segregate the file containing the decisions and the press release from which one superfluous para was omitted

* You said that the legal opinion sought by the DoT vide its letter of October 26, 2007 was between the DoT, law secretary and the then law minister, HR Bhardwaj, and you were never in the picture and, therefore, had no idea whatsoever. I am not so foolish as to change the views expressed by my minister. How did you miss the parts of the file that very clearly said the matter was referred to the law minister and Raja decided to bypass it, saying that the advice tendered was out of context. The responses are on page 8/c and 9/c of file no. 20-100/2007-AS-I. Assuming that you missed it, did you not read the newspapers, which reported the matter extensively

Sir, you are the governments law officerSolicitor General in UPA I and Attorney General currentlyso you will appreciate your responses to these questions are crucial, given how you say you were misled.

I await your response.

Sincerely,

rishi.raj@expressindia.com