Panel to probe spectrum

Panel to probe spectrum

Justice Shivraj Patil to examine allocation issues since 2001

Panel to probe spectrum

“We are looking at internal departmental procedures adopted by the DoT (Department of Telecommunications) during the period 2001 to 2009, which includes the BJP-led NDA regime, for the issuance of telecom access service licences and allocation of spectrum,”  Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters here. The committee will submit its report in one month.

However, the Centre clarified that the appointment of the one-man committee had nothing to do with the Supreme Court order where the court had, on Wednesday, asked the CBI to probe into the same issue since 2001. Expectedly, the main component of the NDA - the BJP–criticised the move, calling it a breach of parliamentary functioning.    

The announcement came on a day when a virtual corporate war broke out on the controversy with industrialist Ratan Tata coming out in support of the government’s 2G spectrum allocation policy while criticising the policies of the BJP regime. This was in response to an open letter by Independent MP from Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha Rajeev Chandrasekhar. Tata also sought a probe into the spectrum allocation since 2001 saying the maximum flip-flops in the telecom policy occured during the BJP rule.

Sibal said that through the committee the government was expected to know the entire gamut of procedures adopted for grant of spectrum not only to 122 licencees (by former telecom minister A Raja in 2008) but also beyond that, both in the category of start-up and additional spectrum. Once the government has the inquiry findings with it, a decision would be taken on how to move forward. “(The) objective is to tell the people of this country how spectrum was allocated and we will put this in the public domain,” he added.
Raja’s claim

The BJP-led NDA government ruled the Centre from 1999 to 2004. Former telecom minister A Raja has been saying that he only followed the policies of his predecessors.

Asked about the objective of such a committee at a time when the government auditor CAG had already given its report, Sibal said: “CAG is a constitutional body, it has recommendatory authority. They (CAG) have given the report and the same is being examined by the parliamentary panel.”