January 5th, 2012
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Tough times ahead for PC

chidambaramChennai: Home Minister P Chidambaram could find the going tough in Saturday’s hearing at the Special CBI court in Patiala House. The Prime Minister’s Office and the Finance Ministry on Wednesday certified the documents used by Chennai based Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy to allege Chidambaram’s role in the 2G scam.

The court had directed Swamy to produce certified copies of documents following which it will take a call on Swamy’s plea to issue summons to Chidambaram. According to sources, the PMO and the Finance Ministry certified the controversial Office Memorandum of Pranab Mukherjee to the PMO, highlighting the lapses by Chidambaram as the then Finance Minister in the spectrum allocation.

Apart from this document, the Government also certified the closely kept minutes of the meeting between Raja and Chidambaram. Sources said that the Government officials certified the minutes of five meetings between Raja and Chidambaram during January-October 2008. These minutes show that both Ministers agreed on allotting spectrum and telecom licence at the seven-year-old rates and agreed on allowing the sale of shares of multi-national companies at whopping prices.

It is learned that Swamy also got certified copies of senior Finance Ministry officials’ communication to Chidambaram cautioning him on Raja’s designs to allot spectrum. Special Judge OP Saini had directed Swamy on December 17 to produce the certified copies of documents on his petition to make Chidambaram a co-accused in the spectrum scam. Swamy had demanded summoning of two witnesses in his case against Chidambaram. The witnesses were CBI Joint Director Hitesh Awasty and Sindhusree Khullar, the then former Joint Secretary in the Finance Ministry.

After hearing Swamy’s arguments and testifying him as witness, the Judge observed that “if you can produce certified copies, there is no need of summoning the witness.” Legal experts say this situation may directly lead to the issue of summons to Chidambaram under CrPC 319 (power to proceed against other persons appearing to be guilty of the offence).

It is expected that after submitting the certified copies before the court on Saturday, Swamy would conclude his arguments against Chidambaram. Certification of Mukherjee’s controversial note is a big blow to Chidambaram. This note which shook the UPA Government came to light when Swamy produced it the before the Supreme Court on September 21, last year.

The Finance Ministry’s 13-page note showed that Chidambaram was aware of Raja’s ‘plan’ when his (Chidambaram’s) officials alerted him on January 9, 2008, just a day before the controversial allotment of licences and spectrum. It also blames the Finance Ministry, then under Chidambaram, for keeping silence even after the DoT on November 29, 2007 opposed the directive of Finance Secretary D Subbarao on November 22, 2007 to stay the award of licences to Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communication.

Clearly expressing dissatisfaction on Chidambaram’s observation to treat the matter as “closed chapter”, the memorandum to the Prime Minister, approved by Mukherjee, argued that the licences can still be cancelled.

“There was a way out by invoking clause 5.1 of the UAS Licenses (Telecom Licenses), which inter alia, provides for modification at any time the terms and conditions of the licence, if in the opinion of the Licensor (DoT) it is necessary or expedient to do so in public interest or in the interest of the security of State or for the proper conduct of the telegraphs. DoT could have invoked this clause for cancelling licenses in case Ministry of Finance had stuck to the stand of auctioning the spectrum,” said the Mukherjee approved note to PMO.


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