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CBI shielding Tatas, Balwa tells court

New Delhi, May 18 (PTI): The “CBI’s heart beats for the Tatas”, 2G scam accused Shahid Usman Balwa alleged in court today, questioning the agency’s portrayal of the group as a “victim” of A. Raja’s spectrum allocations.

“(The) Tatas never had any strained relations with Raja. In fact, he (Ratan Tata) had written to Raja praising him that he (Raja) has been rational, fair and action-oriented,” Balwa’s lawyer Vijay Agarwal told special CBI judge .P. Saini.

Balwa, promoter of Swan Telecom whose company is alleged to be among those favoured by the former telecom minister, alleged that the CBI was trying to shield the Tatas by giving them a clean chit and suggesting Swan benefited the most from the 2G allocations.

The Tatas are the greatest beneficiary in the allocations, Agarwal claimed, and wondered how the Tatas could be a victim when they were on good terms with Raja. He pointed to the statement of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia that a Tata trust had donated Rs 50 crore to a hospital in Raja’s constituency in Tamil Nadu.

“(The) Tatas were (also) being pursued for taking Kalaignar TV in the Tata Sky bouquet,” Agarwal said.

The CBI has said in its chargesheet that Tata Teleservices Ltd, along with Spice Communications, was “unreasonably deprived” of spectrum for the Delhi circle. The two firms, the agency said, should have got priority over the Balwa’s Swan Telecom in dual technology (GSM and CDMA) approvals.

“Tata (Teleservices), which was an existing licensee, sought to have dual technology. Its file was delayed by 35 days and it was shown that Swan Telecom has been issued the licence for the Delhi circle,” the CBI said.

Tata Teleservices Ltd and Spice were hit hard by the conspiracy hatched by Raja and others, including Balwa and Vivek Goenka of Swan Telecom, and Sanjay Chandra of Unitech Wireless Ltd, in the allocation of spectrum, the agency said in its chargesheet.

But Agarwal, Balwa’s lawyer, contended today that with the exception of Unitech, the CBI had not said a word about the 85 other ineligible companies.

Agarwal also questioned claims that the Delhi circle was the most profitable. “There is no scientific assessment of the charge that the Delhi circle was the most lucrative and was available for only one player. The DoT website shows there is more spectrum available for the Delhi circle.”

The court said Balwa’s bail plea would be taken up on May 24. The decision on the bail applications of his cousin Asif and Rajeev Aggarwal, the managing director another Balwa firm through which alleged bribes for the spectrum favours were routed, was reserved till May 21.

Finger at PC

Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy today sought to implead P. Chidambaram as an accused in the spectrum scam, reports our special correspondent.

“The entire blame in the (CBI) chargesheet had been put on A. Raja whereas it was a joint decision by then finance minister (Chidambaram) and the telecom minister. I intend to implead Chidambaram as an accused, which the CBI is not willing to do,” Swamy told judge Saini.

According to Swamy, Raja and Chidambaram jointly decided to fix the low price for spectrum and thus caused huge revenue losses to the exchequer.

Swamy said the scope of his private complaint was much wider than what was being investigated by the CBI and pleaded that his petition be heard separately.

“My case covers wider issues, including (the) national security issue which the CBI has not investigated. My private complaint should be heard separately as the CBI is not willing to club my complaint with its FIR in the scam,” the Janata Party chief said.

The judge deferred the hearing on the matter to August 26.

Last week the CBI opposed Swamy’s plea that he be appointed a public prosecutor in the 2G case, saying “it is not tenable in law.”

The agency said U.U. Lalit had already been appointed special public prosecutor on the directions of the Supreme Court.

“The prayer of Swamy to appoint him as special public prosecutor and direct the CBI, the Enforcement Directorate and other prosecuting agencies of the government to assist him in conducting the case is, therefore, not tenable in law and is not acceptable,” the agency had told the court.

The agency argued Swamy’s allegation about disproportionate assets of Raja and issues related to the national security aspect were not directly related to the 2G scam.

In its reply the agency had said that Swamy’s submission regarding clubbing of his private complaint with the CBI’s case was not in the interest of justice.

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