Raja, aides presented in court

Thursday, February 3, 2011

NEW DELHI - Former communications minister A. Raja, arrested for his role in the award of spectrum to telecom players that has been dubbed the biggest scam in Indian history, was Thursday presented in the Patiala House Court along with his two aides.

Raja and his aides — former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura and personal secretary R.K. Chandolia — were presented before Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Judge O.P. Saini at the Patiala House Court, officers at the agency said. The CBI has sought five-day custody of Raja and the aides.

The probe teams, including the Enforcement Directorate which investigates dubious cross-border deals, will seek their remand for detailed questioning. The official auditor had said that Raja had caused a loss of $12.8 billion to $40 billion to the exchequer.

“We will also be filing a formal charge sheet against the three accused within 60 days,” a senior CBI officer said Thursday. “There could be further arrests.”

Raja was asked to resign Nov 14 last year after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) indicted him in the spectrum allocation scam and for causing losses of between Rs.58,000 crore ($12.8 billion) and Rs.1.76 lakh crore ($40 billion) to the exchequer.

The issue dates to 2008 when nine telecom firms were issued airwaves, a scarce resource, and licences for second generation (2G) phone services at Rs.1,658 crore (less that $350 million) for a pan-India operation. As many as 122 circle-wise licences were issued.

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