New Delhi: Former telecom minister A Raja has defended the Telecom Ministry's decision to bypass the Law Ministry in seeking legal opinion of the then Solicitor General GE Vahanvati directly on 2G issue saying it was "perfectly permissible" to approach the law officer in certain cases. Raja told the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on 2G issue that it is "perfectly permissible" for a government department to seek the opinion of a law officer when he is already representing it in litigation and advising it on same issues.
"It was in these circumstances that on 7.1.2008, the DoT officials put up a note raising certain issues relating to processing of applications. The policy of the DoT, which had the concurrence of the Solicitor General, and which had been communicated to the Prime Minister, was also set out in the note," Raja, the prime accused in the 2G scam, told the JPC in a written submission.
He said Vahanvati's opinion was only required on the proposed action of the DoT which was already discussed with him and communicated to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "Hence, there was no need to send the file through the Law Ministry. Of course, if the Solicitor General had sought any additional information or documents or wanted the file to be routed through the Law Ministry, he could have asked the DoT officials. He also saw no need for such a course of action," he said.
Raja told the JPC it is "perfectly permissible" for a govt department to seek the opinion of a law officer instead.
Raja also maintained that since Vahanvati was representing the DoT in courts and TRAI in certain litigations on licencing, he was "fully familiar with all the issues." He was responding to a query by the JPC as to why did he seek Vahanvati's opinion "on such an important matter" without routing it through the Law Ministry.
During his appearance before the JPC in February, Vahanvati, who is now the Attorney General, had said that generally opinions are routed through the Law Ministry. Vahanvati had said that the exception is when the law officer represents a department in a court, there are regular interactions with the ministry concerned and the officer also gives opinion relating to such cases.