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Monday, September 26, 2011

Chidambaram's act in 2G not criminal: CBI

New Delhi: The CBI sources on Monday said that the central investigating agency did not find any criminality in the role of the Finance Ministry in the alleged irregularities in the 2G spectrum allocation during P Chidambaram's regime.

In the backdrop of the 2G controversy, Chidambaram has met Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday. The meet held ahead of the scheduled meet between Sonia Gandhi and Finance Minster Pranab Mukherjee, who has returned from his US tour on Monday.

Former telecom minister A Raja's lawyer, Sushil Kumar, on Monday told a Delhi court that Union Home Minister P Chidambaram was a party to all the decisions taken in connection with the 2G spectrum allocation. He, however, clarified that he was not making an attempt to present Chidambaram as an accused.

Chidambaram met Sonia Gandhi ahead of Pranab Mukherjee's scheduled meet with her.

"I am not calling P Chidambaram an accused but he knew everything. He was acquainted with all facts and circumstances of the case," he said.

Raja's lawyer also said that the statement of the home minister should have been taken in September 2010 itself.

Kumar asserted that there was no difference of opinion between Raja and Chidambaram, adding that the allocation was a Cabinet decision and that the entire Cabinet must be made to face the trial.

"It was a decision taken by 2003 Cabinet and followed by all subsequent Cabinets. Why is only my client in jail?"

"Call Chidambaram as a witness under Section 311 and let him accept or deny weather he gave the advice in presence of the Prime Minister or not, and then let the court decide if it wants to call the PM," said Sharma.

Earlier on Monday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday filed fresh charges in connection with the 2G spectrum allocation scam, seeking life imprisonment for all the accused.

An official Finance Ministry document, accessed by RTI activist Vivek Garg, has cast doubts over the role of Home Minister P Chidambaram, who was then finance minister, in the January 2008 decision of former telecom minister A Raja to issue 2G spectrum licences.

On March 25, 2011, Dr PGS Rao, Deputy Director in the Finance Ministry, sent an office memorandum to Vini Mahajan, Joint Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office, regarding allocation and pricing of 2G spectrum. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee approved the note after personally inspecting the 11-page document.

The note categorically stated that the Department of Telecom (DoT) would have been forced to cancel the 2G licences doled out by Raja, had the Ministry of Finance under Chidambaram, stuck to its original demand for auctioning the initial 'start-up spectrum' of 4.4 megahertz each allotted to the 2008 licensees.

Various official estimates have put the loss to the exchequer due to the 2G allocation on January 10, 2010 somewhere between Rs 50,000 crore to Rs 1,76,000 crore. However, present Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal has gone on record to claim the exchequer suffered no loss on this account.

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