This Article is From Mar 16, 2011

2G scam: Raja forged key documents

New Delhi: A Raja, currently in jail, will be formally indicted for his role in India's largest scam by the end of the month along with two companies, the CBI promised the Supreme Court this morning. The agency also said that it has evidence that Mr Raja forged documents that allowed him to pull off the 2G spectrum scam.

Mr Raja, who was the country's Telecom Minister till November, was arrested in February on charges that include criminal conspiracy and corruption.

"The main chargesheet will be filed against A Raja and two companies by March 31. This is only the beginning and many people and companies would also be chargesheeted later on," said senior advocate KK Venugopal on behalf of the CBI.

The government has also informed the Supreme Court that in the next few weeks, it will set up a special court to handle the 2G trial.

Mr Raja is being investigated by the CBI for gifting valuable spectrum at bargain prices to companies in 2008. Forsaking an auction for licenses for mobile networks, Mr Raja opted for a first-come-first-serve policy.  The Prime Minister said recently that there was nothing wrong with that policy, but that its implementation was problematic.

In fact, what Mr Raja did was to brazenly amend a document that then Solicitor General GE Vahanvati had signed off on.  This allowed the former minister to push the companies he favoured with to the front of the line.

In January 2008, Mr Raja abruptly brought forward the deadline for the applications for licenses by a week. He announced this in a press release that was carried in newspapers on January 10, 2008.  A few companies were able to arrange massive funds at short notices - leading to the suspicion that they were privy to Mr Raja's change in schedule.

But  Mr Vahanvati, now the country's Solicitor General, says a crucial paragraph that would have ensured a fair process of allocation, had been deleted:    "However, if more than one applicant complies with Lo I (Letter of Interest) condition on the same date, the inter- se seniority would be decided by the date of application."

The CBI also says that the final draft written in Raja's own handwriting declared, "Press release approved as amended."

The CBI met with Mr Vahanvati last week with a copy of the amended press release.   When asked why he had not objected to the press release when it was published in 2008, the Solicitor General, appearing on NDTV's The Buck Stops Here, said, "They came to me on the 7th of January 2008, and it was a Monday.  And as you know, Mondays are very difficult days, and I don't keep copies of these things, we don't! So I had never seen the press release as issued and I never had a copy of the press release as shown to me. But it was clear to me that what was shown to me was very different from what is now appearing in the file."