CBI gives Raja 10-day break to undergo medical treatment

CBI gives Raja 10-day break to undergo medical treatment

New Delhi: Former telecom minister A. Raja, who has been twice questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as part of the probe into alleged corruption in the allocation of second generation (2G) spectrum and licences, has sought and received a 10-day respite from being summoned by the agency.

Raja told the CBI that he needed the break to undergo medical treatment, said two CBI senior officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Raja said he has to undergo some surgery and will not be available for next 10 days," said one of the two officials. “Since it’s an ongoing investigation, he will be now called for questioning after his return."

However, if necessary, Raja may be questioned in hospital as well, the same official said.

Raja was questioned twice over 12 hours at the agency’s headquarters.

He was confronted with documents seized from his houses, and from close aides and relatives in Tamil Nadu and New Delhi. About 10 days ago, Raja had an appointment at a hospital in Chennai when the CBI was preparing to interrogate him.

“I gave full cooperation to CBI and would continue to do so," Raja, who returned to Chennai on Tuesday, told reporters in the Tamil Nadu capital.Raja resigned after a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) indicated that mismanagement by him and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in the allocation of 2G telephone spectrum and licences in 2008 led to a notional loss of Rs1.76 trillion to the national exchequer.

Another CBI official, who too spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “All the companies named by both the Chief Vigilance Commission and Comptroller General of India in their reports are being investigated."

According to the CAG report, DoT committed multiple violations while allocating 2G spectrum to five new companies—Swan (now Etislat DB), Unitech Wirless (brand name Uninor), Videocon Telecommunications Ltd, S Tel Pvt. Ltd and Loop Telecom Pvt. Ltd.

3G roll-out

Meanwhile, in a significant development, the ministry of home affairs relented on the issue of private phone companies rolling out high-speed 3G services.

The ministry had objected to firms launching 3G services on security grounds, citing the absence of any mechanism to intercept such services in real time.

The issue was resolved on Monday during a meeting between home secretary G.K. Pillai, telecom secretary R. Chandrashekhar and others.

“Private service providers can roll out these services, provided that they sign an agreement of satisfactorily fulfilling all security-related demands in next six months," a senior home ministry official said on condition of anonymity. DoT will now take up the matter with phone companies, he said.

A senior official in DoT, too, confirmed the development. “A resolution has been evolved. If the service providers fail to comply, they will have to themselves discontinue the services," the DoT official said.