Jul 252011
 

"A.Raja defending himself in court"In court today, A Raja presented a spirited defense of the decisions that have landed him in Tihar Jail. One of the more controversial consequences of his decisions was that two Indian companies were able to sell the licences Mr Raja granted very cheaply to them at a massive profit to foreign investors. Mr Raja said in court that the Prime Minister and then Finance Minister P Chidambaram were aware of this. “The Finance Minister approved the sale in the presence of the PM. Let the Prime Minister deny it,” said Mr Raja in court today.

“Whatever I did, I did in the presence of PM and then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. ,” says A.Raja in the court today.
Mr Raja was arrested in November for selling mobile network licences 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 licences 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.

Mr Raja has been questioned about why he decided against auctioning spectrum instead of awarding licences 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. “If I had auctioned spectrum, that would have been a crime, as it was a Union Cabinet decision,” he said.  The government and the PM have said that it’s not the policy but Mr Raja’s twisted implementation that saw companies like Unitech and DB Realty allegedly jumping to the head of the queue to get licences out of turn.

“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. “What the telecom companies do after I give them spectrum is not my domain,” he added.

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