New Delhi: Former telecom minister A Raja has been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the 2G spectrum scam case. Raja was arrested in new Delhi on Wednsday afternoon along with his personal secretary RK Chandolia and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behuria.
Raja has been arrested under sections 120B, 13(2), 13(1D) of Prevention of Corruption Act on the charges of criminal misconduct, violation of policies and favouring some specific companies during the grant of 2G spectrum licences. He will be produced in court on Thursday.
"Based on the fact so far in the investigation in 2G spectrum scam, CBI today in the case of unified access license and irregularities in spectrum arrested A Raja, former telecom secretary Siddharth Behuria and RK Chandolia, personal secretary to Raja. Earlier CBI registered a case against unknown officials of Department of Telecom and private persons," said CBI (DIG) Anurag.
"They have been booked under various sections of Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act," he added.
More arrests are likely in the case with sources saying that former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman Pradeep Baijal and Raja's brother AK Perumal are also under CBI's radar.
With the budget session coming closer and the Congress desperate to end the deadlock over JPC, the arrest was imminent and inevitable.
But the BJP is not willing to drop the JPC demand. The BJP on dubbed the arrest of former Telecom Minister A Raja as "too little too late".
BJP spokesperson Arun Jaitley said, "The JPC is required to investigate other matters of how the minister was appointed."
The CBI is looking at the money trial to prove its charges. It is looking closely at Raja's many companies. Whether the CBI's arrest will pass muster with the Supreme Court which is overseeing this case will come on the February 10 when the Court hears the case.
Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy whose petition galvanised the 2G probe says the credit goes the to Supreme Court and not the CBI.
"Whether it is Parliament or my court case on February 5th in Tis Hazari, doesn't matter. The law has begun to operate and we have to thank Supreme Court for that," he said.
Raja has been arrested just two days after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK supremo M Karunanidhi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Earlier on Wednesday morning Raja was quizzed by the investigating agency for the fourth time at the CBI headquarters in New Delhi. CBI sleuths quizzed him about the role of some of his kin in a few offshoot companies of these telecom firms besides the flow of funds.
The CBI had on Tuesday quizzed Perumal and a close associate in connection with the Rs 22,000 crore 2G spectrum scam. Official sources said Perumal was questioned for over seven hours at the agency's headquarters. They said a close associate of Raja was also questioned.
Though officials were tight-lipped about the line of questioning, sources said, Perumal was questioned on certain financial transactions and his dealings with certain firms.
Raja was forced to resign on November 14, 2009 in the wake of a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report which held that the spectrum allocation at undervalued prices resulted in a notional loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the state exchequer.
Raja got the telecom portfolio on May 18, 2007 and was re-elected as a Member of the 15th Lok Sabha and continued as telecom minister from May 31, 2009, till November 14, 2010 before he tendered his resignation.
The Supreme Court has asked the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate to submit status reports on their investigations into the 2G spectrum case to it by February 10 when the case will come up for further hearing.
In its FIR, CBI mentioned the loss as Rs 22,000 crore based on CVC findings which had referred the case to it.
On Thursday, Raja, Behuria and Chandolia will be presented in the Patiala House Court. CBI can ask for on ground for further interrogation or allow them to judicial custody which would mean the three will spend the night in Tihar jail.