|2G collapse at 3G speed|
|Tuesday, 04 October 2011 00:00|
Apart from the confusion caused by the law ministry’s definition of an ‘associate’ which helps various 2G scam accused get away, or Trai doing a volte-face on whether it had recommended auctions, the CBI probe is getting increasingly directionless, indeed many parts of it appear contradictory. Last week, it gave a clean chit to Datacom for jumping the queue for licences while it has charge-sheeted Swan and Unitech Wireless for the same thing. Datacom was sixth out of nine applicants who submitted their applications before September 25, 2007, but thanks to the tweaking of the first-come first-served criterion, it emerged at the top position in 19 circles and the second position in Delhi and Mumbai, thereby ensuring it got the scarce spectrum.
Similarly, though the CBI is probing licences given several years ago, it has yet to file any charges on the dual technology licences that were also given out in 2008, indeed it has given a clean chit to Tata Teleservices. Yet, as is well known, dual technology licences were given out to three firms even before the policy was announced through a press release. Apart from this obvious illegality, even if dual technology licences were to be given, the CBI needs to probe why Trai recommendations on this were ignored—on higher annual charges for instance—and how dual technology firms got their licences before the 575 applicants before them. This was also a decision Raja took, but the CBI hasn’t even looked at this. The CBI’s argument will probably be that TDSAT had cleared this, so it is not probing it. Two points here. One, the TDSAT decision has been challenged in the Supreme Court. Two, if court decisions were the criterion, why is the CBI probing the matter of excess spectrum held by telcos like Bharti and Vodafone—in December 2010, when Tata Teleservices challenged the allocation of extra spectrum, TDSAT ruled the spectrum had been given legally, in keeping with government policy. The CBI needs to explain the obvious contradictions in its stance.