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Niira Radia Tapes

#72 K. Venugopal: Jun 16, 2009 19:51:37

'K. Venugopal: How is Anil more influential on the High Court side? Niira Radia: Vanavati'

#72 K. Venugopal: Jun 16, 2009 19:51:37

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Niira Radia: Yaa, hi

Man’s Voice: Ya, ya, it’s better now, tell me.

Niira Radia: (Clears throat) And then you have to recall, you know, Spectrum, and then Sunil Mittal went to court and everything and so did SUI and Tatas and everybody with it.

K. Venugopal: Yaa

Niira Radia: Then we come to gas, yesterday, you know, how High Court decides on something which is really the domain of the government and it’s a natural resource and we’ve got a situation in the case of Tata Steel which we are fighting, where Iron Ore mines, where Anil Ambani has applied for Iron Ore mines in Jharkand and he doesn’t even have a steel plant...

K. Venugopal: Mm, hmm 

Niira Radia: And, and if you remember the coal diversion on the Sasan issue happened after the nuclear deal and Amar Singh had stepped in and this hold EGOM thing where, well, you know there’s an issue where the High Court has said whether we have the locus standi, well fine, Tatas have taken a fall and they’ll go to the Supreme Court and they are in Supreme Court already, so I’m sure that we will see some respite as far as Supreme Court is concerned and then you have this whole TDSAT issue in Spectrum where the attachment was so cleverly worded and then Dr Sarma transferred to TRAI as a reward as the TRAI chairman, you know the point I’m making is that whether it’s Mukesh Amabani or Anil Ambani or Tatas I think it doesn’t really matter who it is, I think at the end of the day these are country’s national resources.

K. Venugopal: Uh, huh, hmmm, hmm

Niira Radia: It can’t be decided by a regional leader, it can’t be decided by ministers who have sort of agendas, it can’t be decided by High Court who really don’t understand this, or by state governments in the case of, let’s say in Tamil Nadu when we had the Titanium issue or if you look at the Bellary what Yedyurappa is doing with the mines there..

K. Venugopal: hmmmm

Niira Radia: Or for that matter Madhu Koda. You know I had a meeting in Ranchi with Madhu Koda many months back before the government, before the President’s rule was called …

K. Venugopal: hmmm

Niira Radia: He had a straight deal, he said 150 crores and I’ll give you the Anqua (?) mine for Tata Steel
( Chuckles)

Niira Radia: So my reaction was Mr. Koda you can do what you like, we’ll go to court because we’ll not pay a cent (unclear)

K. Venugopal: hmmm

Niira Radia: Anyway in the end we, thank god, president’s rule was declared and whatever we went to the governor, we appealed, we went to court, and (clears throat) so you look at this, we’ve got people like you know, Koda, you’ve got Yedyurappa in Karnataka, we’ve had DMK in – for that matter Jayalalitha in Tamil Nadu and Titanium, you had Spectrum where you had Raja, you had Maran before that..

K. Venugopal: hmm

Niira Radia: Then you’ve got, you know, gas where again there’s a government-determined price you know and, and then somebody benefits and it’s all for the benefit of – whether it’s one corporate or the other.

K. Venugopal: Ya.

Niira Radia: (unclear)…where is the national policy on national resources?

K. Venugopal: mmm, hmm, hmmm

Niira Radia: For that matter, for someone like the Prime Minister, I don’t think there’s anybody else who’s credible enough other than the Prime Minister today to look at this and say, look, I’m going to decide, whether it is – I’ll – not allow this to be decided at a state level or a, at court or tribunals, no, I don’t think they should have the jurisdiction

K. Venugopal: hmm-hmm-hmmmm

Niira Radia: You know Raja continues to, I’ve and I’ve had another argument with him only this last week when I said you do not give Anil Ambani 6.25 megahertz spectrum without giving out 4.4, otherwise we will go to court

K. Venugopal: h mmm

Niira Radia: And we will go against you even though Mr. Tata has written a wonderful letter about you to your Chief Minister many many months ago, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the right to change his mind.

K. Venugopal: mhh, hmm, hmm, hmmm

Niira Radia: So you know – when I’ve been in the midst of seeing how these manipulative policies have been happening I’ve been in the midst the thick of it from both my clients’ point of view.

K. Venugopal: (laughs)I know all this, this is awful, a –

Niira Radia: Isn’t it?

K. Venugopal: – a judgement saying you can go back to Kokilaben –

Niira Radia: Ya!

K. Venugopal: What is the, what is the locus standi of –

Niira Radia: Of  Kokilaben. Yeah! This is the country’s national resource you’re talking about –

K. Venugopal: And decided by Kokilaben

Niira Radia: Ya. Absolutely, you know, ah, Venu, when you read that judgment it even says let it, let us not think that there are no remedial measures

K. Venugopal: hmmm

Niira Radia: (indistinct) so subjective!

K. Venugopal: Hmmm

Niira Radia: I’ve seen this even in the case of TDSAT.

K. Venugopal: Hmmm

Niira Radia: I mean I’ve seen them how they patted the minister on the back when we know that in the middle of the night it happened and LOIs were issued in the middle of the night and I know how Vanavati has called ah Anil Saldanah and all of us and said, you know, don’t oppose minister, don’t oppose this, we’ll ensure that you get your spectrum.

K. Venugopal: h mmm

Niira Radia: And Anil, I’ve maintained with Anil Saldanah, I do not fall for all this you know because you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow this guy and that’s exactly what has happened he gets his 4.4 megahertz, no other LOI is issued till after he gets his 4.4 megahertz,

K. Venugopal: hmmm

Niira Radia: Then everybody else starts getting spectrum after Swan and you know the Swan Saga and...[indiscenible]

K. Venugopal: Yes. Hmm.

Niira Radia: You know the problem – the point is we don’t know who – unless media is going to take a view, unless they are all going to get up and say something, you can’t leave it to High Court judges to decide whether Maran should decide on country’s national resources. What incentive is there for anyone to invest in this country then? It’s a banana republic.

K. Venugopal: Yeah, it’s amazing and it, uh, here it’s not a clean license, it’s a profit-sharing license.

Niira Radia: That’s right!

K. Venugopal: Where, uh, in profit sharing with the government and so

Niira Radia: Yeah, and the government

K. Venugopal: pricing –

Niira Radia: Pricing is important, yeah, he is only the operator! He’s only the operator! He has nothing to do with what the policy will be, where it is distributed, what happens, the government decides all that. And you know the best part is, the MoU, I’ve seen the MoU, right, doesn’t have anything on it about 2.34. It says NTPC pricing. NTPC agreement was on the basis of L1 because Reliance had bid to supply gas to NTPC on the basis of L1. The LoI itself which I’ve seen, is subject to government approval. It’s different that NTPC and RIL landed up in court not on price but on unlimited liability. Because NTPC insisted that they wanted unlimited liability because RIL was not in a position to supply gas. So – the – even there in their agreement when they sent it back finally which we didn’t enter into, it said, NTPC’s own agreement said subject to government approval. Now what happens if government tomorrow, I mean tomorrow the NTPC pricing is settled at 4.2, so what happens to this High Court judgement?

[ Pause]

K. Venugopal: Mmmm

Niira Radia: And then you’ve got this –

K. Venugopal: So, the MoU talks about uhhhh NTPC prices –

Niira Radia: Yeah, it’s very clear it says subject to

K. Venugopal: Which MoU?

Niira Radia: MoU between the two brothers.

K. Venugopal: Oh, all right, mmm…

Niira Radia: It says the pricing will be determined as per NTPC pricing.

K. Venugopal: hmm mm

Niira Radia: NTPC pricing is in dispute, not by us but because NTPC itself has acknowledged that the price is subject to the approval of the government.

K. Venugopal: If the government tomorrow clearly says it’s 4 – 4.2-

Niira Radia: Yes.

K. Venugopal: For NTPC, then it becomes 4.2.

Niira Radia: Then it becomes 4.2. The question is, in the meantime, what have you done? You know you as a judge have turned around and issued – I mean – in the (?) statement I mean (indistinct)

K. Venugopal: How – how did this happen? How did this judge do this?

Niira Radia: I (laughs) I don’t want to comment or cast aspersions but seriously somebody needs to look at his past judgments and look at his current judgment and see whether the language is the same –

K. Venugopal: h mm

Niira Radia: I can tell you there are almost ten different instances in the entire judgment where he’s gone subjective completely. He even talks about an MoU that was cited, you know the government at the board meeting that specific board meeting of 2005 in June when this whole demerger scheme was decided and so on. The – he talks about what was said in this MoU in the board meeting – in the minutes of the board of – of – of the board meeting. Now the minutes of the board meeting have been produced before the court. He uses words in his judgment which are not part of the minutes of the board –

K. Venugopal: Hmmm

Niira Radia: Which are discussion between board members, so how does he know all this?

K. Venugopal: mm,  hmm, mmmm-hmmm. So who’s going to the Supreme Court now?

Niira Radia: (?) have to go to the Supreme Court. Reliance can’t sit quiet, they’ll have to go to supreme court I mean between you and me there’s no – no – no other way about it. Like and even Tatas have gone to [indistinct] Supreme Court because you’ve seen in the High Court what happened in the spectrum in…

K. Venugopal: How is Anil more influential on the High Court side?

Niira Radia: Vanavati.

K. Venugopal: mmm.

Niira Radia: Vanavati. You’ve seen that in TV SAT. It’s coming from there he’s completely you know beholden to Amar Singh and all that

K. Venugopal: Mmm-hmmm

(pause, disturbance)

Niira Radia: I mean, I’ve been party to a meeting I mean where Vanavati has told Anil Saldanah: Do not oppose Mr. Raja.

K. Venugopal: mmm

Niira Radia: On this. We will make sure you get your spectrum, I’m giving you my word, isn’t my word good enough?

K. Venugopal: h mmm

Niira Radia: I walked out of that meeting with Anil Saldanah I said Anil do not allow this. Don’t accept this, don’t accept anyone, you know, telling you anything, you go by what is legally right for you.

K. Venugopal: h mmm

Niira Radia: Isn’t it Mr. Raja I mean as much as I get along with him I still go back and tell him what I think

K. Venugopal: h mm. (laughs) What did he say?

Niira Radia: What can I do Niira? The court has decided. I said, Mr. Raja, who is the court? Arun Kumar? Appointed by who?  Dr Sarma? You’ve rewarded him as TRAI chairman. Do you think he has any credibility? I mean if you had not appointed him even Dr Sarma was a fairly  upright guy until this judgement happened. If you had not appointed him as the TRAI chairman, we may have said yeah, okay, maybe, you know the judgment is okay but you’ve just gone and rewarded him and now you’re saying everything on the allocation of spectrum I’m going to send back to him. How’s he going to oppose his own judgment? He cannot contradict –

K. Venugopal: What happened today? He is supposed to have met Prime Minister on this –

Niira Radia: Ya, he met FM in the morning –

K. Venugopal: Yes, sorry FM –

Niira Radia: And he’s gone back in the evening again. I think it’s a pricing of 20-22 odd  they’re going to come to a settlement of an in-between price. But one of the views is that the 3G auction, you know this whole thing of pricing 2G beyond 6.25 may be decided after the 3G auction takes place. So they may expedite the 3G auction first.

K. Venugopal: Yeah, 3G auction means you know, say they have to decide whether it is three players of 8 megahertz or whether 5 players of 5 megahertz.

Niira Radia: Yeah and in the evening I think he’s asking for extra slots. But his view is that we should go for 8 players, or 7 players at least at 5 megahertz.

K. Venugopal: Does he have 35 megahertz there.

Niira Radia: Yes, they got 40. But you know what will happen Venu, they get you know 5 megahertz it can start you off on a 3G network and its voice only

K. Venugopal: but, but then ah

Niira Radia: It’s not efficient.

K. Venugopal: mmm

Niira Radia: It’s not efficient. But three players will be in partnership –

K. Venugopal: But you should buy if you know rules should say there should be – uh- virtual operator , they can operate thing but uh roaming should be – I mean any operator should be able to get in.

Niira Radia: Absolutely, ya.

K. Venugopal: See, if I have a 3G phone I have let’s say Vodafone and Vodafone doesn’t have a 3G license, Vodafone customers must be allowed to roam on some other, there must be some arrangement with one of the 3G holders, so that should be built into the license because otherwise it’s unfair –

Niira Radia: That’s right, that’s right because then you –

K. Venugopal: – to consumers

Niira Radia: - consumers , completely.

K. Venugopal: Because I am, because it would be, just because I am left with somebody who doesn’t have a 3G license my phone should not be denied I mean today I have a 2G service but if I want to go to 3G I must gravitate to a person who’s got 3G license.

Niira Radia: ya [indistinct... disturbance]

K. Venugopal: Hmm?

Niira Radia: It’ll allow you –

K. Venugopal: Or as a consumer should I not be better served if I should be allowed to roam on a 3G network?

Niira Radia: (indistinct) The 2 operator – would have an agreement with the 3G operator which will serve him a better or a higher (?) which he’ll pass on to the consumer in any case and I think the consumer…

K. Venugopal: You see it is not happening with VSNL , VSNL is a closed door, nobody can roam on VSNL.

Niira Radia: H mm, that’s right.

K. Venugopal: Suppose you were in a godforsaken place where only VSNL has a connection

Niira Radia: Yeah, you can’t roam on it.

K. Venugopal: You can’t roam on it.

Niira Radia: Yeah, which is ridiculous isn’t it and then you are ready to open last mile on top of all that, over and above that, but you know…

(Recording ends abruptly )

Transcribed by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy with corrections and checking by Sasi and then by OL

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