New Delhi: A former top Department of Telecom official on Tuesday told a Delhi court trying the 2G case that four counters were set up for distribution of letters of intent to eligible telecom firms on January 10, 2008 as only four directors were available in the Access Service Cell of the department. Deposing as a prosecution witness in the case, DoT's erstwhile Member (Technology) K Sridhara said the large number of applications received by the department for Unified Access Service Licence was also a reason for establishing four counters for distribution of LoIs in the committee room of Sanchar Bhawan here.
"It is correct that the four counters were set up for distribution of LoI's on January 10, 2008 in view of the fact that only four directors were available in the Access Service Cell and the applications were large in number," he told Special Central Bureau of Investigation Judge OP Saini during his cross examination by advocate SP Minocha, who appeared for former Telecom Secretary Sidharath Behura, an accused in the case.
The CBI, in its chargesheet, had alleged that the 'ill conceived' design to set up four counters to distribute LoIs to the firms made a 'mockery' of the first-come-first-served policy. It had claimed that distribution of LoIs in this manner had 'resulted in reshuffling of the priority of applicants' and benefited Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd, both facing trial in the case.
Sridhara, whose recording of statement concluded on Tuesday, had on Monday said that after going through the November 2, 2007 draft letter, written by the then telecom minister to the Prime Minister, he had told the minister (A Raja's) at his residence that "contents of the same were generally correct."
He had also said that in a meeting chaired by Raja and also attended by him on November 2, 2007, it was decided that considering the availability of spectrum, discussions with various officers and to avoid legal complications, LoIs would be issued to the applications received upto September 25, 2007.
During the cross examination, Sridhara said he had gone to Raja's house on November 2, 2007 and a draft letter was handed over to him for his perusal. Raja, Behura and DMK MP Kanimozhi, along with others, are facing trial on various charges like cheating, criminal conspiracy, forgery and faking documents under the Indian Penal Code and those of abusing official position, getting bribe and criminal misconduct by public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The offences entail punishment ranging from six months in jail to life imprisonment.