One after another, three 2G scam accused have sought to draw the court’s attention to the CBI’s “pick-and-choose” policy in the probe, while demanding that other entities, including the Tatas and Systema Shyam, should be investigated and charged because they have been as much a beneficiary of 2G spectrum as DB Realty or Unitech, both accused in the case.
First it was former telecom minister A Raja who dared the CBI to charge the Tatas; he was followed by former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura demanding the same. On Friday, Raja’s close aide, his ex-private secretary R K Chandolia, too, accused the CBI of “blackmail” and selective prosecution while asking for industrialist Ratan Tata and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia to be named as accused in the case.
“The deal took place between Radia and the Tatas, they are not in jail, and my client who is not involved is in the dock,” Chandolia’s counsel Vijay Aggarwal contended before CBI Special Judge O P Saini. “We all know that CBI does not have the guts to touch the Tatas and Radia,” he added.
The three accused have alleged that corporates such as the Tatas and Systema Shyam, which also received 2G licenses, have not been touched even though Systema applied for license after the cut-off date.
Chandolia’s counsel also referred to witness statements and the leaked Radia tapes to argue it was Aseervatham Achary, an associate of the minister, who had conspired to bring DMK-run Kalaignar TV on the TataSky DTH bouquet by acting as a conduit between Raja and Radia. “Going by this, Tata, Radia, Achary and KTV all should be made accused in the case. Tata and Radia are big people and so the CBI cannot touch them, but why not Achary?”
“Deals are being struck between Radia and Tata through Achary who is a conduit… Why are they not in jail when I am in jail even when I have no involvement in the matter?” he demanded.
Initiating the arguments, Agarwal claimed that Chandolia was not associated with the DMK, Kalaignar TV or any other telecom company and asked the probe agency to produce a single document where he has put in his signature. “As and when directed by Raja, Achary used to connect him to Radia as the minister helped KTV pursue the matter of bouquet of channels on TataSky with the help of the lobbyist who has been made a witness,” he claimed
“A Raja was the minister and my master. I merely carried out his instructions. I was his (Raja’s) sophisticated helper. I am only an extra assisting hand to carry out instructions of my master. Can I question my master? How can an assisting staff be roped in by the CBI?” the lawyer asked.
The lawyer for Chandolia, who will continue his arguments on Saturday, named another DoT official – K Shridhar, member of the Telecom Commission on Technology, who assisted Raja in drafting a letter to the Prime Minister on November 2, 2007. Chandolia also denied his role in getting two officials of the department of telecom (DoT) transferred as they were allegedly not processing the files of Swan Telecom as desired by Raja.
A 1984 batch Indian Economic Service officer, Chandolia was Raja’s private secretary during the UPA’s first term when the 2G spectrum licences were awarded. When Raja became telecom minister again in UPA’s second term, Chandolia was promoted to joint secretary rank. Raja re-designated him Economic Adviser, which gave him charge of policy-related work.
Chandolia reportedly interacted with all the licencees and it was he who, from DDG-Access Services A K Srivastava’s room, handed out letters of intent to the companies.