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Monday 5 December 2011

2G scam: Order on Subramanian Swamy's plea against Chidambaram on December 8

2G scam: Order on Subramanian Swamy's plea against Chidambaram on December 8

New Delhi: A trial court in Delhi today reserved its order on a petition filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy in the 2G scam case. Mr Swamy is demanding that Union Home Minister P Chidambaram be made a co-accused in the scam. The order will now be announced on December 8.

Mr Swamy had recently claimed that he has proof that Mr Chidambaram and former Telecom Minister A Raja acted together in fixing 2G spectrum prices.

A Finance Ministry document, that Mr Swamy has released, reportedly cites a meeting between Mr Chidambaram and Mr Raja on the pricing issue.

The document released by Mr Swamy has the Finance Secretary's notings mentioning two meetings between P Chidambaram and A Raja on May 29, 2008 and June 12, 2008 to resolve outstanding issues relating to allocation and pricing of 2G and 3G spectrum bands.

It says, "Spectrum usage charge is pegged to the bandwidth and is calibrated as a percentage of the Adjusted Gross Revenue [AGR]. In view of historical legacy reasons and the administrative issues involved in changing an established practice, it was decided to continue with the current practice of levying spectrum usage charges on the basis of varying percentage of AGR for different bandwidths of spectrum"

On pricing of spectrum for 2G allocations, the document states, "It has been agreed that the "base price" shall be determined by taking the entry fee of rs 1650 crore [determined in 2003-04] for pan-India operation of UASL licensees as the price of spectrum for 6.2 mhz of bandwidth for GSM operators [a similar exercise is possible for CDMA operators also]. This translates to an embedded price of Rs. 266 crore/mhz [for pan India operation]"

In 2008, when Mr Raja was the Telecom Minister and allegedly used his office to orchestrate India's biggest swindle - better known as the 2G scam, Mr Chidambaram was the Finance Minister. Mr Swamy contends that the decisions taken by Mr Raja were endorsed by Mr Chidambaram, and he should therefore share responsibility for the scam, and be formally investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

This is likely to mount further pressure on the Home Minister in particular and the government in general. The main Opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has decided to boycott Mr Chidambaram during the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament until such time as he tenders his resignation over the 2G issue.

Mr Raja was arrested in February this year; the CBI is handling the case against him and 13 others accused of criminal conspiracy. The Supreme Court is monitoring the CBI's investigation; a special court headed by Judge OP Saini is handling the trial

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