2G case: CBI files charge sheet against Airtel, Vodafone

New Delhi, Dec 21 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Friday filed charge sheet against mobile service firms Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India Ltd and Sterling Cellular Limited for alleged irregularities in allocation of excess spectrum during the NDA regime.

The CBI has also named former telecommunications secretary Shyamal Ghosh and the three telecom firms as accused in the charge sheet for criminal conspiracy and under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act for causing loss of about Rs.846 crore to the national exchequer.

The agency told the court that additional spectrum was allotted on July 17, 2002 to Bharti Cellular Limited (now Bharti Airtel) and Sterling Cellular Limited (now Vodafone Mobile Service Limited) for the Delhi metro area, and Hutchison Max (now Vodafone India Limited) for Mumbai metro area.

The CBI contended that then communications minister Pramod Mahajan, along with Ghosh, had allotted addition spectrum to the telecom companies in a hurried manner and in contravention with the then telecom policy.

"Investigation has revealed that Shyamal Ghosh, then chairman of Telecom Commission and secretary DoT, in conspiracy with late Pramod Mahajan, then telecom minister and the accused beneficiary companies i.e Hutchison Max and Sterling Cellular and Bharti Airtel Ltd through their representatives, abused his official position as public person and showed undue favour which caused loss of Rs.846.44 crore to the government exchequer and corresponding undue gain to the aforesaid telecom companies," it said in its charge sheet.

In the 32-page charge sheet, the CBI said that the telecom companies were charged additional 1 percent of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) for allocating additional spectrum from 6.2 MHz up to 10 MHz (paired) even as under the then existing norms, the companies were chargeable additional 2 percent of the AGR.

The CBI told the court that former deputy director general (VAS) cell of DoT and former director of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), J.R. Gupta, named in the FIR as one of the accused, has been made as one of the 73 witnesses in the case.

No action has been taken against Mahajan and no charges have been found against the promoters of Airtel and Vodafone, the agency told Special CBI Judge O.P. Saini.

The court fixed Jan 14, 2013 for consideration of the charge sheet.

The Supreme Court Nov 29 directed the CBI to prosecute telecom firms and people behind allocation of 2G spectrum during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime after Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati gave his opinion on the alleged irregularities in awarding extra spectrum to the these companies during Mahajan's tenure.

Both the companies have, however, refuted any wrongdoing in the case.

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