Maran denies wrongdoing in issuing telecom licences (Lead)

June 1st, 2011 - 11:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, June 1 (IANS) Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran Wednesday denied allegations of having received kickbacks for issuing a 2G licence to a private operator when he was telecom minister 2004-07.

“It is totally untrue and malicious,” Maran said about the allegations that he was “partial to a particular company” in granting licence.

Maran’s denial comes in the wake of a report in Tehelka magazine which claimed that Maran in 2006 deliberately delayed clearing the licence to certain companies.

The article triggered demands by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the AIADMK for his resignation from the cabinet. Left parties also asked for “serious investigations” into the allegations.

“As the news items are far from truth, I have already sent defamation notices to the newspapers and television channels concerned,” Maran said on allegation that a Malaysian company Maxis Communication bought 74 percent stake in Aircel when Maran was the telecom minister and the company was later allotted more circles to operate.

Maxis Communication through its subsidiary Astro invested around Rs.600 crore in Sun DTH belonging to Sun TV Network owned by Maran’s family, it has been alleged.

Maran held the telecom portfolio from May 2004 to May 2007 in United Progressive Alliance-I.

He stressed that “no telecom company directly or indirectly had ever invested in any of the companies owned by my brother during my tenure as telecom minister”.

Maran said: “As the allegations are getting focused sharply now and some political parties are also joining them, I would fail in my duty if I do not place the facts in their right perspective in public domain.”

“I vouch that during my tenure as minister of communications and IT, I was totally impartial in taking decisions. I have not favoured any company over others. Neither any applicant company was allowed to jump the queue in grant of licences nor was there any loss to the exchequer,” he said.

“Only companies fulfilling all the required conditions were given letters of intent on their own turn. Even the CAG (comptroller and auditor general) has not mentioned any loss to the exchequer an account of issue of licences in my tenure,” he added.

The minister said that “the practice followed then for grant of (telecom) licence to any applicant was that the applicant company had to satisfy all prescribed conditions in respect of the networth, funding pattern, business plan and debt-equity ratio.”

The applicant company was also needed to have a clean history of payment and fulfilment of licence conditions in a service area, he said.

“In so far as the issue of grant of licence to Dishnet Wireless Limited (Aircel) is concerned, as far as I could recall, even before I joined as minister of communications and IT on May 27, 2004, there were serious queries relating to the funding potential of the company, its networth and debt-equity ratio raised by the department of telecommunications and the application was under examination before I became a minister,” he said.

“The grant of licences applied for by the company was approved when the file was submitted by the department after thorough examination of all issues including legal aspects and the company became fully eligible for allotment,” he said.

“I was not even a minister when Astro invested in Sun Direct in December 2007 as I had resigned in May 13, 2007. Needless to say, I own no shares or any fiduciary interest in any of these companies,” he said in his statement.

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