Vahanvati: Never had any ‘detailed discussions’ on 2G policy change

The meeting with Mukherjee,said Vahanvati,lasted 10-15 minutes,during which the then external affairs minister “carefully went through” the note prepared by the then Solicitor General.

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi | Published:February 28, 2013 12:33 am

Appearing before the Special CBI Court as a witness to depose in the 2G Spectrum case,Attorney General (AG) of India,Goolam E Vahanvati on Wednesday said that he had not been present for any “detailed discussions” regarding changes to the telecom licensing policy.

He also stated that he had only attended one meeting with the then telecom minister A Raja and the then external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee,who was then heading a group of ministers (GoM) looking into the issues related to spectrum licensing.

Agitated by Vahanvati’s testimony,Raja told the AG in open court: “Should I stay in jail because you are feigning ignorance?” Raja’s lawyer,senior advocate Sushil Kumar remarked,“three persons were in the meeting,one is claiming ignorance,one is in jail and the third cannot be touched.”

The remarks came while Raja was cross examining Vahanvati on the point of whether the then Solicitor General had been consulted regarding proposed policy changes. Vahanvati reiterated the stand taken by him before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) where he had said that a Department of Telecom (DoT) press release inviting applications for spectrum allocation in 2008 cleared by him was altered by Raja before it was issued.

“It is wrong to suggest that what was communicated to the Hon’ble Prime Minister,as future course of action,was based on the discussion with the then minister for external affairs and me. The contents of this letter to the effect that ‘the discussions with the minister for external affairs and Solicitor General of India have further enlightened me to take further preemptive and proactive decisions on these issues are not correct,” Vahanvati told the court.

The AG has said that the issues mentioned in the note sent by Raja to the Prime Minister “were not discussed during the meeting with the then external affairs minister in which I was present”.

Vahanvati also told the court that even on the day of the meeting held “sometime in the first week of December 2007” he had not been privy to the discussion between the two ministers.

The meeting with Mukherjee,said Vahanvati,lasted 10-15 minutes,during which the then external affairs minister “carefully went through” the note prepared by the then Solicitor General.

The AG also stated that he had never seen the entire record of the DoT file regarding the telecom licensing policy. He has said that then telecom secretary Sidharth Behura had brought the file to him in January 2008 and Vahanvati had made a note in the file regarding the draft press release shown to him.

“The press release referred to in my note Ex PW 60/L-31 was the draft press release in unaltered form,which was shown to me,” said Vahanvati,who also later clarified that he had only “glanced through” the DoT file,and had not read through the entire record of the file notings since he was “only concerned with the draft press release”.

“It is wrong to suggest that my opinion was sought through this file on the proposed course of action to be taken by the DoT,” he said.

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