Additional spectrum allocation case, 2002: How CBI’s allegations were dismissed

The special court dismissing these claims of the CBI and gave out its detailed reasons as to why the accused cannot be put on trial based on the allegations.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi | Published:October 16, 2015 2:51 am

In the additional spectrum allocation case, the CBI had alleged irregularities on part of the accused on various grounds that included non-approval from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and the Telecom Commission, which had caused loss to exchequer. On Thursday, the special court dismissing these claims of the CBI and gave out its detailed reasons as to why the accused cannot be put on trial based on the allegations.

Allegation
DoT (Department of Telecommunications) was required to obtain recommendations of Trai regarding the quantum of additional spectrum to existing operators.

What the court said
Trai recommendations dated June 26, 2000, and October 24, 2000, were already there and DoT was not required to ask for fresh recommendations. It further said that these recommendations cover both “inadequacy of existing spectrum” to the existing operators and also “need for additional spectrum”.

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Allegation
Additional spectrum was allocated to the three companies in the most efficient band of 900 MHz — though as per the order dated February 1, 2002, the spectrum was to be allocated in 1800 MHz band.

What the court said
Witnesses have stated additional spectrum was to be allocated to the existing operators in 1800 MHz band, but ultimately it was allocated in 900 MHz band on “account of technical constraints”. The court further added that there is no document on record to prove that band was “wrongly changed”. “As such, it cannot be said that band was changed for extraneous reasons,” the court added.

Allegation
Shyamal Ghosh, former telecom secretary in conspiracy with accused telecom companies were allocated spectrum beyond 6.6 MHz up to 10 MHz to the firms — by charging 1 per cent of AGR, whereas per the past analogy it should have been 2 per cent, that is 1 per cent each for two tranches of 1.8 MHz.

What the court said
Limiting of AGR to 4 per cent for 10MHz of spectrum is “compatible with the circumstances prevailing in the industry at that time, more so, when the concept of rate of percentage of AGR to be charged itself was not fully firmed up and everybody was suggesting his own rate of percentage charges”.

Allegation
Ghosh was appointed as chairman of Universal Obligation Fund on the recommendation of ex-telecom minister Pramod Mahajan.

What the court said
All the “substantive allegations” in the charge sheet are “either distorted ones or contrary to record” — in such situation there is “no need to discuss issues, which allegedly subsequent to order on allocation.

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