2G scam: Ex-telecom minister A Raja wants to depose for MPs' committee

2G scam: Ex-telecom minister A Raja wants to depose for MPs' committee
New Delhi:  Former telecom minister A Raja has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as well as the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) that he wants to depose before the panel probing the 2G spectrum scam.

In the letter, Mr Raja says, "In the deliberations on the JPC, some of the honourable members have expressed their desire that I should be called upon to depose before it. For the reasons set out in this letter, I respectfully submit that I am willing and indeed anxious to appear before the JPC, which may kindly be directed to summon me as soon as possible. (Read the letter)

"The truth of the matter is being suppressed and the top court order contains prejudicial observations. I have been condemned unheard," he adds.

Mr Raja's request comes days after Attorney General G E Vahanvati blamed him for various issues before the JPC. He has also been blamed for the 2G scam by other witnesses before the special CBI court.

The former telecom minister met the Speaker at her office yesterday and handed over a letter expressing his willingness to appear as a witness before the committee.

DMK members in the committee, T R Baalu and T Siva, had been pressing Chairman P C Chacko to call Mr Raja as a witness. They also demanded calling Mr Vahanvati again before the panel after he told JPC earlier this month that the controversial press note regarding 2G licences was changed at the last minute by Mr Raja in 2008 with a different pen.

Mr Vahanvati was then the Solicitor General.

Mr Chacko is reportedly against calling Mr Raja as a witness. He has told members that as an accused has legal protection, he cannot make fresh revelations before any committee. Therefore, there was no point in calling Mr Raja.

But Chacko is yet to take a final call on the issue.

"If Raja is to be called, he will be the last witness. If DMK agrees on not calling him, then we have concluded calling witnesses before JPC and we would focus on writing the report," Chacko had recently said.

Parliament sources said the Speaker cannot direct any committee to call a person as a witness. In this case, she can forward Mr Raja's letter to Mr Chacko who is currently in Bangalore.

The telecom scam was allegedly engineered by Mr Raja when he was Telecom Minister to give out-of-turn licenses and free second-generation airwaves to companies.

The former telecom minister spent 15 months in jail for the telecom swindle, also referred to as the 2G scam for the sort of airwaves that are at the heart of the controversy. He was released from jail in May last year.

The scam shook the Prime Minister's fragile coalition after the government's auditor said it had cost the country 1.76 lakh crores.

The Supreme Court, in February last year, cancelled 122 2G licenses. The court has asked the government to hold fresh round of auctions for spectrum allocation.

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