New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday conducted searches at Vodafone’s Indian unit and Bharti Airtel’s offices seeking details on spectrum allocation by the government to operators between 2001-02.
The searches were in regard to possible irregularities in allotting spectrum during the NDA government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), CBI spokeswoman, Dharini Mishra told Reuters.
“All our documents are in complete compliance with the governing laws and regulations. Vodafone India is completely co-operating with the officials and will provide them all the required details as part of their checks,” Vodafone said in a statement.
The CBI conducted raids at Vodafone’s Mumbai and New Delhi offices and Bharti Airtel’s office in Gurgaon.
“We would like to categorically state that all the spectrum allotted to us from time to time has been strictly as per the stated government policy,” Bharti Airtel’s spokesman said in a statement.
“We are providing all details and correspondence to the authorities and shall provide complete support as needed in the matter,” Bharti Airtel’s spokesperson said.
The Congress party-led UPA government has been rocked by a series of corruption scandals that sparked massive street protests by anti-graft activists, sent prominent politicians to trial and undermined investors’ confidence in the Asian giant.
The biggest case involves the trial of business executives and the former telecom minister A Raja, who is accused of taking bribes to favour some firms which wanted to buy mobile phone licences. The state auditor Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had said the under-selling of licences for kickbacks may have cost India $39 billion in revenue.
Saturday’s searches could give the Congress party ammunition to fight back against the main opposition BJP’s attacks against the government. Shouting matches and walkouts shut down Parliament on a near daily basis for much of the year.
The BJP repeated past accusations that the CBI was under the tacit control of the Congress. A BJP spokesman said the searches were carried out to deflect scrutiny away from the government’s own corruption scandals.
“Now they are raking up this issue just to divert the attention,” Prakash Javadekar, a BJP spokesperson told a press conference.
Controversial anti-corruption legislation Lokpal Bill will likely top the agenda when Parliament reconvenes on Tuesday.