“Chidambaram was in the know of what Raja did”

Raja could not have moved ahead without Finance Minister’s concurrence: Prashant Bhushan

Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Monday told the Supreme Court that the then Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, was aware of what A. Raja as Telecom Minister, did in fixing the 2G spectrum price.

Making this submission before a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly, Dr. Swamy produced documents, which were part of the charge sheet, to show that Mr. Chidambaram was appraised by Mr. Raja of what he proposed to do.

Dr. Swamy rejected the CBI’s contention that Mr. Chidambaram was not responsible for postponement of a full meeting of the Telecom Commission from January 9, 2008 to January 15, 2008, and said that on January 10, 2008, only Letters of Intents were given and no licence was issued. Quoting a document dated November 30, 2007, Dr. Swamy said Mr. Chidambaram was aware of what Mr. Raja had planned to do in January 2008. He also quoted an office memorandum prepared by the Finance Ministry and said even if licences had been issued, clause 5.1 could have been invoked by the then Finance Minister to modify the licence terms in the public interest. But Mr. Chidambaram failed to do so.

Dr. Swamy said: “Suppose there was no meeting of minds of the two Ministers [Mr. Raja and Mr. Chidambaram], then the Finance Minister, who was bound by oath of office to secure the finances of the nation, could have invoked the Transaction of Business Rules framed for such situations and prevented it. He said: “There is documentation that both Mr. Raja and Mr. Chidambaram had a meeting of minds in the commission of the offences and since the CBI had done a truncated investigation, further probe is necessary.”

At the commencement of the proceedings, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Reliance Telecom, brought to the court’s notice reports in the media about the last date of hearing on Anil Ambani and said such publications adversely affected the company’s interest.

Counsel said the contents of the CBI’s status reports should not be read out in the open court as reporting in the media without full facts affected his client’s interest.

The Bench asked counsel to seek appropriate remedy in accordance with law.

Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the Centre for Public interest Litigation, said: “The facts stated in the Finance Ministry note, [without taking into account the inferences], point to a clear fact that officials of the Finance Ministry repeatedly pointed out that spectrum allocation could not be determined by the entry fee of 2001, that it should be allocated through a market-discovered price. Since, in our system, the Finance Ministry cannot be overruled by another Ministry, it was impossible for Mr. Raja to move ahead without the concurrence of the then Finance Minister.”



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