In a major expose, Attorney General G E Vahanvati on Tuesday revealed former telecom minister A Raja’s role in altering a press note inviting applications for spectrum allocation in 2008 that was cleared by the top law officer himself.
Vahanvati, who appeared before the Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G allocation, told the panel that his trust was betrayed by none other than the former telecom minister, who fraudulently changed his notings with a different pen without seeking his consent.
The forged press note, allegedly meant to benefit certain companies, was subsequently released by the telecom department on January 10, 2008, after the deletion of an entire paragraph.
Vahanvati is understood to have told the panel that former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura brought the file related to the press note personally to him, during his tenure as Solicitor General. Behura had reportedly sought Vahanvati’s opinion on the Letter of Intent and he offered his opinion on premises of trust.
“However, Vahanvati conceded that he could not disagree his trust was belied,” JPC Chairman P C Chacko said after the meeting.
Vahanvati also countered Raja’s claim, saying he never had a discussion with the former telecom minister on the process of allocating 2G licenses. Raja had earlier claimed of having discussed the pre-emptive and pro-active decisions with the then Solicitor General Vahanvati and had even told the court that he acted on the advice of the Solicitor General and the Prime Minister. On interrogation, Raja had admitted to have amended the press note but had also claimed that he did it after getting Vahanvati’s consent. The CBI, during its investigation had found that some paragraphs were replaced with malafide intention.
Vahanvati, however, nailed Raja’s lies and said the changes in the first-come first-served policy were never discussed with him and that he had nothing to do with the issue of 2G spectrum licences.
“In reply to a query by members, Vahanvati said he had concurred with the draft press note on the issuance of licences shown to him by the then Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura on January 7, 2008 carrying four paragraphs. He said he was not aware of amendments to the press release at a later stage. Noting by the minister — the then telecom minister A Raja — in press release approved as amended was added subsequently that too with a different pen,” Chacko quoted the A-G as saying.