2G Scam: Ex-Telecom Minister Pramod Mahajan Not a Conspirator, Says Court

New Delhi
2G Scam: Ex-Telecom Minister Pramod Mahajan Not a Conspirator, Says Court

An attempt to drag previous NDA regime in 2G telecom scam was trashed by a special court which said CBI failed to establish that the then telecom minister Pramod Mahajan and then secretary Shyamal Ghosh were in a conspiracy to favour private players in additional spectrum allocation in 2002.

Special CBI Judge O P Saini said both Mahajan and Ghosh were having different view points on the issue of allocation of additional spectrum and it was evident from the evidence brought on record.

It said that as per evidence brought by CBI, while the Mahajan had favoured allocation of additional spectrum, the then secretary had differed.

Mahajan was the Telecom Minister from September 1, 2001 to January 28, 2003 during the erstwhile NDA regime.

"Now the question is when the secretary and the minister were differing on every point, how can they be conspirators? Moreover, Shyamal Ghosh was not in favour of allocating additional spectrum to the existing operators at least from March 9, 2001 when the letter was sent to COAI declining additional spectrum and thereafter, at every step, he was resisting it...," the court said while discharging Ghosh and the three telecom firms in the case.

It also noted that aditional spectrum issue was discussed in detail by the minister in the department with the relevant authorities and need for additional spectrum to the existing operators was recognized and a decision in that regard was taken.

"The central question is: whether the minister discussed the matter in the department with the relevant authorities or not? The material discussed above reveals that the matter was discussed in detail in the department by relevant authorities.

"There is no obligations on a superior to always honour the view of subordinates. Once a matter is discussed, the superior, in this case secretary (telecom) and minister, were free to take a decision in their discretion in the light of existing facts and circumstances," it said.

The court said it cannot be said that decision was taken in haste without consultation or concurrence with Member (Finance) but certainly there is no formal decision of telecom commission.

Regarding the allegation by CBI that a "hasty decision" to allocate additional spectrum was taken by Mahajan on the recommendation of Ghosh, the court said, "though the views of officers and ministers were different, but the matter of additional spectrum was discussed at least four times in the department."

"The matter was discussed and debated in the department and, as such, it cannot be said that it was a decision taken unilaterally in haste and without concurrence or consultation with Member (Finance)," it said.

The court further said how these applications (of telecom firms) were processed and disposed of have not been produced before the court and only the letters culled out from Department of Telecom (DoT) have been placed on record deliberately.

"The files on how these applications were processed and disposed of have not been produced before the court. Only the aforesaid letters culled out from the DoT record have been placed before the court. Perhaps it has been done deliberately to indicate that the demand for additional spectrum started only in 2001 on late Pramod Mahajan joining the Ministry," the court said in its 235-page order.

In its charge sheet filed on December 21, 2012, CBI had refrained from mentioning Mahajan's name as accused.

The agency, in its 57-page charge sheet, had said the decision regarding allocation of additional spectrum to these telecom firms was taken in "undue haste" in pursuance to the conspiracy hatched amongst Mahajan, Ghosh and these companies.

Detailing the roles of accused named in the charge sheet, the CBI had said Ghosh, a 1965 batch retired IAS officer, in conspiracy with Mahajan and telecom firms, abused his official position to show undue favour to the companies causing a loss of Rs 846.44 crore to the exchequer.

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