NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The CBI has asked former telecom minister, Mr Arun Shourie to appear before the agency in connection with its probe into possible criminal aspects in the telecom policy since 2001 and the BJP leader will make his appearance on February 21.
The Central Bureau of Investigation approached Mr Shourie last week asking him to appear before it in connection with the preliminary enquiry registered by the agency following a direction from the Supreme Court. Mr Shourie had held the telecom portfolio between January 2003 and May 2004 in the NDA regime,
The PE was registered against “unknown persons” with an aim to ascertaining as to whether or not the “first-come-first-served basis” provision passed by the then cabinet led by Mr A B Vajpayee was followed, officials in New Delhi said.
Mr Shourie said that someone from the CBI had called his home when he was away and that he later conveyed to the agency that he will be appearing before it on February 21 after his return from Kolkata.
The BJP spokesperson, Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad said the party had nothing to hide and is open for enquiry.
Mr Prasad, however, said he differed with Mr Shourie’s comments that he had informed top BJP leaders like Mr Arun Jaitley and Ms Sushma Swaraj about the 2G scam in 2007 but they had kept quiet.
“We raised this issue in the Parliament and outside. What the BJP has done over this issue is for everybody to see. I disagree with Shourie’s comments,” he told reporters in Mumbai.
The CBI was likely to go into the minutes of the meetings held by successive telecom ministers which included late Pramod Mahajan, Mr Shourie and Mr Dayanidhi Maran.
According to the CBI, nearly 50 licences were given out on the first-come-first-served basis and Bharti, Vodafone and Idea were among the beneficiaries of the policy.
The CBI would go into the documents of the companies who have been awarded the contracts.
Mr Shourie said that he would be handing over some documents to the CBI during his appearance before the agency on February 21.
The Supreme Court had on December 16 last year directed the agency to widen its investigation to cover the grant of licences by both the NDA and the UPA regimes between 2001-2007 and submit a report.
The apex court had made it clear that the emphasis of the investigation would be to determine the loss of money to the public exchequer and said a progress report on the probe has to be filed by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate in a sealed cover.
Holding that prima facie “serious irregularities” have been found in issuance of 122 licences, the court had delivered a seven-point direction to the CBI and the ED saying it was satisfied that allegations need a thorough and impartial investigation.
Mr Shourie had said he was not sure what made the apex court widen the scope of the probe from 2001.