No deviation from rules in awarding telecom licences: Raja

No deviation from rules in awarding telecom licences: Raja

Under attack over allocation of spectrum, Telecom Minister A Raja on Tuesday said he had followed his predecessors and decisions were taken in consultation with the Prime Minister, based on the opinion of top law officers.

"I have been saying that issuance of licence and allotment of spectrum have been done in accordance with telecom regulator TRAI's recommendations, in consultation with the Prime Minister after clear approval of the Solicitor General of India who was appearing before the tribunal with connected cases," he told reporters here. CBI is probing allegations of irregularities in spectrum allocation and last week searched offices of DoT, prompting demand from opposition parties for Raja's resignation.

When asked about the allegations, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters on Sunday that these repartees are part of democracy but "that does not mean what the Opposition is saying is right." There is no question of any ambiguity or aberration of rules and the well established procedure of first come first serve policy has been adopted as envisaged in the 1999 Telecom Policy brought out by the then BJP-led government. "All my predecessors followed the same procedure so did I. So, in terms of legal rules and procedure followed, there is no deviation," he said.

Asked if he was victim of a telecom cartel, he said: "It was earlier believed that there should not be more operators so there was an implied stagnation or some sort of cartel.  I wanted to bring competition in accordance with (regulator) Trai norms... so the competition might have created some storm... let it be investigated." Raja has been facing a charge that he doled out spectrum cheaply to new players that may have caused huge loss to the exchequer and the CBI is investigating into it and last week searched offices of the Department of Telecom.

On the opposition's demand for his resignation in view of an ongoing investigation involving his ministry Raja said, "Where is the question of resignation... that question does not arise." Any procedural error by DoT officials, he said, will be in front of the investigating agency. "I should not comment or interfere in course of investigation," he added. Asked if the stake sale by companies like Unitech Wireless and Swan Telecom fuelled the controversy, he said: "These sales come under the FDI policy and CCEA had approved them.