Centre seeks more time to reply to Etisalat''s plea

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New Delhi, Jan 17 (PTI) The Centre today sought moretime from the Delhi High Court to file its reply as to why itopposed further investment by Etisalat DB Telecom in India onits Director Shahid Usman Balwa''s plea seeking an orderrestraining the government from making any allegations linkinghim with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

Appearing for the Ministry of Home Affairs, counselAtul Nanda sought more time to file an affidavit beforeJustice S Muralidhar who granted time till March 7.

UAE-based Etisalat DB Telecom company, earlier known asSwan Telecom, is facing CBI and ED probes in 2G spectrum scam.

After getting telecom licence and spectrum at Rs 1,530crore, Swan had sold its 45 per cent of shareholding toEtisalat at a whopping Rs 4,500 crore. The allotment of Rs 380crore worth shares to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MKarunanidhi''s close associate Sayed Salahuddin''s company hadtriggered controversies.

The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) hadrejected the proposal of Etisalat for further investment of Rs380 crore in India following objections by the Home Ministry.

The Home Ministry had informed the FIPB that Etisalat DBcould not be granted security clearance on four grounds whichinclude its presence in Pakistan and Afghanistan and attemptby Etisalat to mount a telecommunication surveillanceapplication software on Blackberry within UAE in 2009.

The Ministry has pointed to Etisalat''s shareholding inPakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTSL) and Balwa''spresence in the venture. Balwa is also a Director of PTSLwhich is considered an ISI-controlled company by Indiansecurity agencies.

Balwa has been associated with a firm owned by underworlddon Dawood Ibrahim.

The Home Ministry also objected to the selling of sharesof the controversial company Genex Exim controlled by NRItycoon Salahuddin''s son.

The shareholding of Genex Exim in Swan Telecom is alreadyunder CBI radar and the offices of this little-known companyin Chennai were also searched by the investigators. Followingthis, Balwa has moved the Delhi High Court which sought aresponse from the Home Ministry.

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