Former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura on Tuesday informed the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), which is examining the allocations and pricing of telecom licences and spectrum, that former Telecom Minister A Raja had taken major decisions ahead of granting 2G licences.
Behura made it clear that many decisions such as revision in cut-off date were taken before he took over as Telecom Secretary. He also made it clear that as secretary, he had a very small role in granting licences to ineligible applicants as the secretary does not scrutinise the applications. As far as issuing licences to firms Unitech and Swan is concerned , Behura washed his hands of the matter saying that he had relied on the opinion given by his subordinates and said the note did not mention that they were ineligible. Maintaining that he had differences of opinion with Raja on certain issues, Behura said that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had deviated from first-come, first-served policy in 2008.
He also said that the then minister even deleted his note and wrote on the file that it was not necessary.
Behura pointed out that all the applications were processed together without following seniority of applicants on the basis of date of receipt of the application in the DoT registry.
Behura informed the JPC that he was of the opinion that the inter-se seniority of applicants based on their date of application be maintained and a note to be prepared in this regard.
According to JPC Chairman P C Chacko, Behura said that the Minister had already taken decision and deleted his note.
Though Behura termed advancing the cut-off date to grant licences as unusual, he told the JPC that the situation demanded such a decision.
Chacko said that Behura informed the committee that he had met the then Cabinet Secretary and the then Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister during courtesy calls after joining the department and the issue of 2G did not come up for discussion.
Chacko said that at present there was no need to summon Raja to corroborate the statements of Behura since these could be checked from the file, which is available with the committee.