Former Telecom Minister A Raja was today arrested along with his two former associates in connection with the 2G spectrum scam. Reacting to the development, DMK said that this will not affect its ties with the Congress party.
Raja arrived at the CBI headquarters this morning, a day after his brother A K Perumal was questioned by the CBI about alleged funding of some front organisations owned by Telecom companies which had been allocated spectrum from October 2007 to January 2008, official sources said.
Raja, his former personal secretary R K Chandolia and former Telecom Secretary Siddartha Behura were arrested for allegedly abusing their official position and manipulating the tendering procedures to benefit certain telecom companies in getting the spectrum.
The arrest of 47-year-old Raja, who has been questioned four times by the agency, comes over two months after he was forced to resign in the wake of the spectrum controversy.
Raja, who was questioned earlier on December 24 and 25 last year and January 31, was called to the CBI office this morning and quizzed before being arrested, the sources said.
The DMK MP had been confronted with some questions and documents recovered from the computers seized during searches conducted by the investigation agency earlier at his premises, the sources said.
He was also asked about his conversations with corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and the reasons for advancing the cut-off date of applying for license for spectrum allocation in 2007 by a week.
Raja was forced to resign on November 14 last year in the wake of the 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.
He 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.
The Supreme Court has asked CBI and 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 in spectrum allocation as Rs 22,000 crore based on CVC findings which had referred the case to it.
CBI has also questioned former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chief Pradip Baijal, a 1966 batch IAS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, and former Telecom Secretary D S Mathur in connection with the case.
Raja arrest an instance of law taking its own course: Cong
Congress today said the arrest of former Telecom Minister A Raja in the 2G spectrum allocation scam was a case of law taking its own course. “Congress had said earlier also that all such cases should be investigated and enquired properly and law will take its own course,” AICC General Secretary Janardhan Dwivedi told reporters.
He dismissed as a “silly judgement” a question whether the arrest of a former Minister in the UPA government showed that the dispensation was corrupt. “I am not bound to answer such silly judgement,” he said. In reply to a question, he said the development would not have any bearing on the relations between the Congress and DMK, to which Raja belongs.
Raja’s arrest too little too late: BJP
BJP today dubbed the arrest of former Telecom Minister A Raja as “too little too late” and demanded that others involved in the 2G spectrum scam should also be brought to book.
“The arrest is too little too late. It is very unfair to say that Raja alone had gulped Rs 1.76 lakh crore. Who are the rest of the people? BJP categorically wants to know that,” BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said. He said Raja’s arrest was just beginning of an exercise.
“Please don’t give credit to the government for the arrest. Government has to answer many questions before this finally comes to an end,” he said.
Chronology of developments related to 2G spectrum case
Following is the chronology of some developments related to the 2G spectrum case:
May 16, 2007: A. Raja appointed as Minister for Telecommunications for a second term.
October 25, 2007: The Centre rules out the possibility of auctioning 2G (second generation) spectrum for mobile services.
September — October 2008: 2G spectrum licences given to telecom firms.
November 15, 2008: The Central Vigilance Commission in its initial investigation report finds lapses and recommends action against certain Telecom Ministry officials.
October 21, 2009: CBI registers a case to probe 2G Spectrum case.
October 22, 2009: The CBI searches offices of the Department of Telecom in connection with the case.
October 17, 2010: Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) indicts the DoT for multiple violations of policy in handing out second generation mobile phone licences.
November, 2010: Opposition rocks Parliament demanding ouster of Telecom Minister A. Raja.
November 14, 2010: Raja resigns.
November 15, 2010: HRD Minister Kapil Sibal gets additional charge of the Telecom Ministry.
November 2010: Parliament stalemate over the Opposition demand for a JPC probe into 2G spectrum allocation.
December 13, 2010 : DoT notifies the terms of reference of retired Supreme Court Justice Shivraj. V. Patil committee to look into the spectrum allocation procedures and policies. It is asked to submit its report to the Telecom Minister.
December 24 and 25, 2010: Raja questioned by CBI
January 31, 2011: Raja interrogated by CBI for third time
The one-man Patil Committee submits its report
February 2, 2011 : Raja, former Telecom Secretary Siddartha Behura and Raja’s former personal secretary R. K. Chandolia arrested by the CBI in connection with 2G spectrum case.