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2G spectrum scam

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The 2G spectrum scandal involved officials in the government of India illegally undercharging mobile telephony companies for frequency allocation licenses, which they would use to create 2G subscriptions for cell phones. The shortfall between the money collected and the money which the law mandated to be collected is estimated to be 1.76 lakh crore (1.763 trillion) rupees (roughly equivalent to 39 billion US dollars) based on 3G auction prices. The issuing of licenses occurred in 2008, but the scam came to public notice when the Indian Income Tax Department was investigating political lobbyist Nira Radia. The government's investigation and the government's reactions to the findings in the investigation were the subject of debate, as were the nature of the Indian media's reactions. The discussion around the reactions to the 2G spectrum scam became known in the media as the Nira Radia tapes controversy. Much of the credit of bringing this whole scam into the public light (by pursuing it in the court of law) goes to Subramanian Swamy who is the chief petitioner for this case in the court of law.[1][2]


1 Parties accused of involvement o 1.1 Politicians involved o 1.2 Bureaucrats involved o 1.3 Corporate Executives involved o 1.4 Film and Entertainment persons involved o 1.5 Corporations accused o 1.6 Media persons accused 2 Shortfall of money 3 Relationship between media and government o 3.1 Ratan Tata petitions over leak 4 Chronology of Events and Investigation 5 Response to scam 6 References 7 Further reading 8 External Links

[edit] Parties accused of involvement

The selling of the licenses brought attention to three groups of entities - politicians and bureaucrats who had the authority to sell licenses, corporations who were buying the licenses and media professionals who mediated between the politicians and the corporations.

[edit] Politicians involved

A. Raja - the Minister of Communications and Information Technology who sold the licenses

M. K. Kanimozhi - Rajya Sabha MP P. Chidambaram - The Then Minister of Finance and current Minister of Home Affairs - alleged to be involved with A. Raja in spectrum pricing and equity dilution by telecom operators that received spectrum [3] [4]

[edit] Bureaucrats involved

Siddharth Behura - Former Telecom Secretary RK Chandolia - Raja's private secretary

[edit] Corporate Executives involved

Gautam Doshi - Managing Director of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group Surendra Pipara - senior vice- President of Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group and Reliance Telecom Hari Nair - senior vice-president of Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group Sanjay Chandra - Managing Director of Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd Shahid Balwa - DB Realty promoter Vinod Goenka - DB Realty promoter Sharath Kumar - Managing Director of Kalaignar TV Rajiv Agarwal and Asif Balwa (younger brother of Shahid Balwa) - chief executives of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables

[edit] Film and Entertainment persons involved

Karim Morani - Cineyug Media and Entertainment Ltds Director

[edit] Corporations accused

Unitech Group a real estate company entering the telecom industry with its 2G bid; sold 60% of its company stake at huge profit to Telenor after buying licensing[5] Swan Telecom sold 45% of its company stake at huge profit to Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) after buying licensing[5] Loop Mobile Videocon Telecommunications Limited S Tel Reliance Communications

[edit] Media persons accused

Nira Radia, a corporate lobbyist whose conversations with politicians and corporate entities were recorded by the government and leaked creating the Nira Radia tapes controversy Barkha Dutt, an NDTV journalist alleged to have lobbied for A. Raja's appointment as minister Vir Sanghvi, a Hindustan Times editor alleged to have edited articles to reduce blame in the Nira Radia tapes

[edit] Shortfall of money

A. Raja arranged the sale of the 2G spectrum licenses below their market value. Swan Telecom, a new company with few assets, bought a license for Rs. 1537 crore.[6] Shortly thereafter, the board sold 45% of

the company to Etisalat for Rs. 4200 crore. Similarly, a company formerly invested in real estate and not telecom, the Unitech Group, purchased a license for Rs. 1661 crore and the company board soon after sold a 60% stake in their wireless division for Rs. 6200 crore to Telenor.[6] The nature of the selling of the licenses was that licenses were to be sold at market value, and the fact that the licenses were quickly resold at a huge profit indicates that the selling agents issued the licenses below market value. Nine companies purchased licenses and collectively they paid the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology's telecommunications division Rs. 10,772 crore.[6] The amount of money expected for this licensing by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India was 1,76,700 crore.[7] The report on the details of the financials involved framed by CAG could be found at the website of Comptroller and auditor general of India (Supreme audit institution of Government of India).[8]

[edit] Relationship between media and government

Media sources such as OPEN and Outlook reported that Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi knew that corporate lobbyist Nira Radia was influencing the decisions of A. Raja.[9] The critics alleged that Dutt and Sanghvi knew about corruption between the government and the media industry, supported this corrupt activity, and suppressed news reporting the discovery of the corruption.[9]

[edit] Ratan Tata petitions over leak

The tapes leaked to the public include conversations between Nira Radia and Ratan Tata. Tata petitioned the government to acknowledge his right to privacy and demanded accountability for the leak, with the Minister for Home Affairs, CBI, Indian Income Tax Department, the Department of Telecommunication, and the Department of Information Technology as respondents in the petition.[10]

[edit] Chronology of Events and Investigation

May, 2007: A Raja takes over as Telecom Minister. [11] Aug, 2007: Process of allotment of 2G spectrum for telecom along with Universal Access Service (UAS) Licences initiated by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). Sept 25, 2007: Telecom Ministry issues press note fixing deadline for application as October 1, 2007. Oct 1, 2007: DoT receives 575 applications for UAS licences of 46 companies. [12] Nov 2, 2007: The Prime Minister writes to Raja directing him to ensure allotment of 2G spectrum in a fair and transparent manner and to ensure that licence fee was properly revised. Raja writes back to the Prime Minister rejecting many of his recommendations. Nov 22, 2007: Finance Ministry writes to DoT raising concerns over the procedure adopted by it. Demand for review rejected. Jan 10, 2008: DoT decides to issue licences on first-come-first-serve basis, preponing the cut-off date to September 25, from October 1, 2007. Later on the same day, DoT posted an announcement on its website saying those who apply between 3.30 pm and 4.30 pm would be issued licences in accordance with the said policy. [13][14] 2008: Swan Telecom, Unitech and Tata Teleservices sell off a part of their stakes at much higher rates to Etisalat, Telenor and DoCoMo, respectively.[15][16][17] May 4, 2009: An NGO Telecom Watchdog files complaint to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on the illegalities in the spectrum allocation to Loop Telecom. May 19, 2009: Another complaint was filed to the CVC by Arun Agarwal, highlighting grant of spectrum to Swan Telecom at throwaway prices.

2009: CVC directs CBI to investigate thes irregularities in allocation of 2G spectrum. July 1, 2009: Delhi HC holds advancing of cut-off date as illegal on a petition of telecom company S-Tel. [18] Oct 21, 2009: CBI registers a case and files an FIR against unknown officers of DoT and unknown private persons/companies under various provisions of IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act. Oct 22, 2009: CBI raids DoT offices. [19][20] [21] Nov 16, 2009: CBI seeks details of tapped conversation of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia to find out involvement of middlemen in the grant of spectrum to telecom companies. Mar 13, 2010: SC upholds Delhi HC verdict on cut off date advancement as illegal [22][23] Mar 31, 2010: CAG says that there was large scale irregularities in the spectrum allocation. Apr 2, 2010: CBI DIG (Investigations) Vineet Agarwal and DG I-T (Investigations) Milap Jain, who were investigating the case, transferred. [24] May 6, 2010: Telephonic conversation between Raja and Niira Radia made public by the media. [25] May, 2010: NGO Centre for Public Interest litigation moves the Delhi High Court seeking investigation into the scam by SIT or CBI. May 25, 2010: Delhi HC dismisses the petition. Aug, 2010: Appeal filed in the Supreme Court against the High Courts order. Aug 18, 2010: HC refuses to direct the Prime Minister to decide on a complaint by Janata Party chief Swamy seeking sanction to prosecute Raja for his involvement in 2G scam. Sept 13, 2010: SC asks government, Raja to reply within 10 days to three petitions filed by CPIL and others alleging there was a Rs 70,000 crore scam in the grant of telecom licences in 2008. Sept 24, 2010: Swamy moves SC seeking direction to the PM to sanction prosecution of Raja. Sept 27, 2010: Enforcement Directorate informs SC of probe against firms suspected to have violated FEMA. Says cant deny or confirm now Rajas involvement in the scam. Oct 8, 2010: SC asks government to respond to CAG report about the scam.[26] Oct 21, 2010: Draft reports of CAG placed before the Supreme Court. Oct 29, 2010: SC pulls up CBI for its tardy progress in the investigations into the scam.[27][28] Nov 10, 2010: CAG submits report on 2G spectrum to government stating loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to exchequer. Nov 11, 2010: DoT files affidavit in SC saying CAG did not have the authority to question the policy decision as per which licence were issued to new players in 2008. Nov 14, 2010: A Raja resigns as Telecom Minister [29] [30] Nov 15, 2010: Kapil Sibal given additional charge of Telecom Ministry. [31][32] Nov 20, 2010: Affidavit on behalf of PM filed in Supreme Court. Rejects charge of inaction on Swamys complaint.[33][34][35] Nov 22, 2010: CBI tells SC it will file charge sheet in the case within three months. Nov 22, 2010: CBI tells SC role of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia would be questioned by it. Nov 24, 2010: SC reserves verdict on Swamys plea seeking direction to PM for grant of sanction to prosecute Raja. Nov 25, 2010: SC ticks off CBI for not questioning Raja. Nov 29, 2010: CBI files status report on 2G spectrum scam probe. Nov 30, 2010: SC questions CVC P J Thomass moral right to supervise CBIs probe into 2G spectrum scam as he himself was Telecom Secretary at that point of time. [36] Dec 1, 2010: SC directs original tapes containing conversation between corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and others be handed over to it. Dec 1, 2010: Raja questions CAG findings in the SC. Dec 2, 2010: Government places recorded tapes in the SC. Dec 2, 2010: SC comes down heavily on Raja for bypassing and overruling PMs advice to defer allocation of 2G spectrum by a few days.

Dec 8, 2010: SC favours including in the probe period since 2001 when first-come-first-serve was the norm for spectrum allocation. Dec 8, 2010: SC asks Centre to consider setting up of a special court to try 2G spectrum scam case. Dec 8, 2010: ED submits report. Says money trail covers 10 countries, including Mauritius. Dec 14, 2010: Another PIL in SC seeking cancellation of new telecom licences and 2G spectrum allocated during Rajas tenure. Dec 15, 2010: Swamy files petition in a Delhi court seeking his inclusion as a public prosecutor in 2G spectrum case. Dec 15, 2010: Swamy mentions in complaint that Raja favoured ineligible private companies Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd and Unitech Wireless Ltd in allocating the spectrum. Dec 16, 2010: SC decides to monitor the CBI inquiry [37][38][39] Jan 4, 2011: Swamy moves SC seeking cancellation of 2G spectrum licences. Jan 10, 2011: Supreme Court issues notice to Centre on the plea seeking cancellation of 2G licenses. Also issues notices to 11 companies which allegedly did not fulfill the roll-out obligations or were ineligible. Jan 30, 2011: Governments decision to regularise licences of the companies which failed to meet the deadline for roll-out obligation challenged in the Supreme Court. Feb 2, 2011: Raja, former Telecom Secretary Siddartha Behura and Rajas former Personal Secretary R K Chandolia arrested and next day they were remanded in CBI custody. Feb 8, 2011: Raja remanded to two more days of CBI custody. Behura and Chandolia sent to judicial custody. Feb 8, 2011: Shahid Usman Balwa, promoter of Swan Telecom, arrested by CBI. Feb 10, 2011: SC asks the CBI to bring under its scanner corporate houses which were beneficiaries of the 2G spectrum. Raja remanded to CBI custody for four more days by a special CBI court along with Balwa. Feb 14, 2011: Rajas CBI custody extended for three more days. Balwas custody extended for four days. Feb 17, 2011: Raja sent to Tihar Jail under judicial custody. Feb 18, 2011: Balwa sent to judicial custody. Feb 24, 2011: CBI tells a Delhi court that Balwa facilitated transaction to Kalaignar TV. Feb 28, 2011: Raja seeks judicial proceedings through video conferencing stating that he faces threat to life from fellow prisoners. Mar 1, 2011: CBI tells SC that 63 persons are under scanner. Raja allowed by CBI court to appear before it via video-conferencing. Mar 14, 2011: The Delhi High Court sets up special court to deal exclusively with 2G cases. Balwa also allowed to appear via video-conferencing. Mar 29, 2011: SC permits CBI to file charge sheet on April 2 instead of March 31. Two more persons Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal arrested. Apr 2, 2011: The CBI files its first charge sheet in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.[40][41][42] Apr 25, 2011: CBI files second charge sheet and court issues summons to Kanimozhi, Sharad Kumar and Karim Morani taking cognizance of the charge sheet.[43][44][45] May 6, 2011: Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar appear before court and file bail pleas while Morani sought exemption from appearance on medical ground.[46][47][48] May 6, 2011: SC issues contempt notice to Sahara India managing director Subroto Roy and two others for alleged interference in the ongoing ED investigation into the 2G spectrum case. [49] [50] May 7, 2011: Special CBI Court reserves order on Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumars bail applications. May 14, 2011: Special CBI Court defers order on their bail pleas for May 20. May 20, 2011: Special CBI Court rejects bail pleas of Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar and orders their forthwith arrest saying that there was a possibility of witnesses being influenced considering the magnitude of the crime. [51] [52]

June 8, 2011: Delhi HC rejects bail pleas of Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar citing that there are certain prima facie evidences against the accused and they may be in a position to influence the 2G probe [53] [54] June 20, 2011: SC rejects Kanimozhis bail plea [55] [56] [57] July 25, 2011: Arguments on Charge begins. Raja seeks to make Prime Minister and former finance minister P Chidambaram as witness. Aug 26, 2011: Special CBI court allows Subramanian Swamy to argue his own case (mainly to address the possible loop holes in CBI investigation of the case) [58] [59] Aug 30, 2011: ED orders freezing of accounts, attachment of properties worth Rs 223 crore of five companies mainly related to DB Realty under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) [60] [61] Sept 15, 2011: Swamy pleads before special CBI court that P Chidambaram should be made coaccused [62] [63] Sept 22, 2011: CBI defends Chidambaram in SC, blames DoT for all wrongs. Sept 26, 2011: CBI moves plea for framing fresh charge for criminal breach of trust against Raja, Chandolia and Behura. [64][65] Sept 29, 2011: CBI says role of Anil Ambani being probed, gives a virtual clean chit to Tata and Videocon group.[66][67] Oct 9, 2011: CBI files FIR against Maran and his brother in Aircel-Maxis deal. [68][69][70] Oct 10, 2011: The Supreme Court reserves order against Subramanian Swamys plea for a probe into Home Minister Chidambarams role in the 2G scam.[71][72] Oct 22, 2011: Special CBI Court finds prima facie evidence to put on trial all 17 accused including Raja on various counts like criminal conspiracy, breach of trust, cheating and forgery. [73][74] Nov 3, 2011: Special CBI court dismisses bail pleas of all the 8 applicants (including Kanimozhi) [75] Nov 8, 2011: Special CBI court orders CBI to give copy of file on sale of equity by telecom companies (for investigating P Chidambaram's involvement) to Swamy [76] [77] Nov 9, 2011: Delhi HC refuses to grant interim bail to Karim Morani on health grounds wondering Why everybody falls sick once he is in custody? HC issues notice to the CBI on its reply on the bail pleas of the five accused by December 1. [78] [79] Nov 11, 2011: Trial of the 17 accused begins in Patiala House special CBI court. [80][81] Nov 14, 2011: UPA govt moves SC seeking to restrain Dr Subramanian Swamy from making public allegations against the UPA leadership (especially Home Minister P Chidambaram and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi) in the 2G scam case [82] [83] Nov 22, 2011: The Special CBI court shifts the trial to the Tihar Jail complex following a Delhi high court order [84] [85] Nov 23, 2011: SC grants bail to 5 corporate executives - Sanjay Chandra of Unitech Wireless, Vinod Goenka of DB Realty as well as Reliance Group's Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nayar.

[edit] Response to scam

In early November 2010 Jayalalithaa accused the state chief minister M Karunanidhi of protecting A. Raja from corruption charges and called for A. Raja's resignation.[87] By mid November A. Raja resigned.[88] In mid November the comptroller Vinod Rai issued show-cause notices to Unitech, S Tel, Loop Mobile, Datacom (Videocon), and Etisalat to respond to his assertion that all of the 85 licenses granted to these companies did not have the up-front capital required at the time of the application and were in other ways illegal.[89] Some media sources have speculated that these companies will receive large fines but not have their licenses revoked, as they are currently providing some consumer service.[89]

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