A case has been registered under Section 120-B of the IPC along with Sec 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act against Shyamal Ghosh, telecom secretary (2001-03), J R Gupta, the then telecom deputy director general (DDG), and Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone Essar Ltd and Vodafone Essar Mobile Services Ltd, CBI spokesperson Dharni Mishra said.
Searches are being conducted at the residences of Ghosh and Gupta at Dwarka in Delhi, Airtel office in Gurgaon, Vodafone office at Okhla in Delhi and Vodafone House in Mumbai. The then minister of Telecom and Communication, Pramod Mahajan, who died in 2006, has been excluded. “It is alleged that the then secretary (telecom) and DDG entered into a criminal conspiracy with the three beneficiary private companies and abused their official positions as public servants,” said Mishra.
The duo, with approval of the then telecom minister, took an alleged hurried decision on January 31, 2002, to allocate additional spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz in violation of the report of a technical committee, he added.
According to information, the accused officials also decided to allocate additional spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz by charging a spectrum fee of an incremental 1 per cent AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue).
“By allotting additional spectrum from 6.2 MHz up to 10 MHz and not charging incremental 1 per cent AGR on allotment of spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz as applicable in normal prudence, the officials caused cumulative losses of Rs 508.22 crore to the exchequer between 2001 and 2007,” said a CBI official. The losses would have been higher had A Raja, the then telecom minister, not reversed the decision in 2008, it is learnt.
The fresh case is the result of the Supreme Court directions to the CBI to investigate the irregularities committed in the grant of licences from 2001 to 2007 with particular emphasis on the loss caused to the public exchequer.