2G scam| CBI quiz Niira, Radia; Raja next in line

2G scam| CBI quiz Niira, Radia; Raja next in line

New Delhi: Corporate lobbyist Niira Radia was questioned by the CBI today at her South Delhi residence for four hours in connection with the 2G spectrum allocation scam and the agency is all set to quiz former Telecom Minister A Raja.

A team of the CBI, which had issued notice to Radia recently under section 160 of Criminal Procedure Code, arrived at her Chhattarpur farmhouse in the morning and carried through questioning till 2 PM during which she is understood to have been confronted with various telephone conversations, official sources said.

The CBI’s move to question Radia at her residence did raise some eyebrows but the agency officials maintained that she was a woman and that the CBI had to follow the rules which states that for any “witness" under the age of 15 years or woman, the statement needs to be recorded at his/her residence.

Seeking to downplay the issue, CBI spokesperson said, “I don’t have much to say but it is the prerogative of the Investigation Officer to choose the place for questioning. There have been instances earlier as well when CBI has gone to a person’s place for questioning."

After her questioning, the CBI was now mulling to book “some people" under section eight and nine of Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly influencing government servants for their personal benefit.

CBI reached Radia’s farmhouse at Chhattarpur area at about 10 am to question her on several issues including her alleged involvement in the spectrum allocation.

Her questioning was being carried by the CBI probing a case registered on October 21, 2009 against unknown Department of Telecom officials and private persons and companies for allegedly causing loss of 22,000 crore to the exchequer.

The figure of the loses mentioned in the agency’s FIR were based on the findings of Central Vigilance Commission which had referred the case to the CBI.

In a related move, Radia’s PR firm Vaishnavi Communications issued a brief statement saying “we have extended all cooperation to the authorities and will continue to do so in the ongoing investigations."

The CBI sleuths had earlier carried out searches at Radia’s residence and the premises of Vaishnavi Communications here.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also grilled her on allegations of money laundering last month when she was called to the ED headquarters.

Radia hit the spotlight after her taped telephonic conversations with various influential people including industrialists, politicians and journalists became public.

Supreme Court is closely monitoring the multi agency probe in the allocation of 2G spectrum to certain telecom firms.

It has criticised the CBI for its slow pace in the probe and had asked why none of the high-profile people including Raja has not being questioned so far.

CBI has issued summons to Raja, who is in Chennai, asking him to appear before the agency. The sources said that Raja was next in line to be questioned by the agency soon.

The apex court has asked CBI and ED to submit status reports on their probe to it by February 10, when the 2G spectrum case will come up for hearing.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its report to the Parliament had said that the allocation of 2G spectrum at under valued prices had resulted in the loss of 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer.