'Raja wanted faster modus-operandi'

A raja

A former senior official of the Department of Telecom (DoT) today told a Delhi court that erstwhile Telecom Minister A Raja wanted a "faster" procedure to give the 2G licences to the applicant firms.

Deposing as a prosecution witness, DoT's erstwhile Member (Technology) K Sridhara said the first-come-first-served (FCFS) policy was changed during Raja's tenure as the department had received a large number of applications for the Unified Access Service Licences (UASL).

Sridhara said there was "no problem" in continuing with the existing FCFS policy, but Raja wanted a procedure by which licences could be distributed "faster" to the eligible telecom firms.

"However, due to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's recommendation that no cap should be imposed on the number of licences for new service providers, a large number of applications had been received and the minister (Raja) informally discussed that we should give more licences at the earliest to introduce more competition and therefore, reduce the tariff to help the common man.

"Hence, he wanted a procedure by which licences could be given faster," Sridhara told Special CBI Judge O P Saini.

According to the CBI, Raja had "manipulated" the existing FCFS policy to benefit Unitech Limited Managing Director (MD) Sanjay Chandra and Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, who all are facing trial in the case.

It had also alleged that the "ill-conceived" design of the FCFS policy was known to accused firms Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd three months in advance as they were ready with demand drafts for the purpose.

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