Some questions on the 2G spectrum scam

May 20th, 2011 - 7:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) The second generation (2G) spectrum scam has led to massive losses for the national exchequer. A primer on what is being labelled one of India’s biggest corruption scandals that involves politicians, corporate honchos and bureaucrats:

Q: What is the 2G spectrum case ?

A: The issue dates to 2008 when nine telecom companies were issued scarce airwaves and licences for second generation (2G) mobile phone services at Rs.1,658 crore (approx $362 million) for a pan-India operation. As many as 122 circle-wise licences were issued. But, it was alleged that by giving the airwaves cheap, that too in the controversial manner of first-come-first-served basis, the exchequer had lost billions of dollars. The cut-off date for applications was also arbitrarily advanced.

Later, based on the auction of airwaves for third generation (3G) services, which got nearly $15 billion to the exchequer, and that for broadband access, which fetched over $8.5 billion, the notional loss was estimated at $38 billion to the exchequer.

Q: Who all are in jail?

A: Twelve people, including former Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi and Kalaignar TV Managing Director Sharad Kumar, were in New Delhi’s Tihar jail as of Friday evening, while one accused is in judicial custody in a hospital here and another has been exempt from personal appearance on grounds of ill-health.

The first one to be arrested was DMK leader and former communications minister A. Raja. After that, the CBI arrested Raja’s aide R.K. Chandolia, former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa and his cousin Asif Balwa.

The corporate leaders arrested are Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom, Sanjay Chandra of Unitech, three officials of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group - Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara, who is in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) - and Rajiv B. Agarwal of Kusegaon Realty.

Joining the 12 Friday were Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar of Kalaignar TV that is owned by the DMK.

Cineyug Film’s Karim Morani is the only one who has been exempted from personal appearance due to ill health.

Q: Who else have been let off due to no evidence?

A: Karunanidhi’s second wife, Dayalu Ammal, has not been chargesheeted as the agency could not gather any evidence against her.

Q: What are the charges against them?

A: Raja conspired with top bureaucrats, including a retired IAS officer, and corporate leaders to cause a loss of millions of rupees in the allocation of 2G spectrum.

The other accused have been charged under various sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC), Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) relating to forgery, cheating, faking documents, giving and accepting illegal gratification for abuse of official position.

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