DoT issued licences in 2008 based on Raja''s letter to PM:Panel

Written by: Pti
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New Delhi Feb 10 (PTI) In a deviation from the policy,the Telecom Ministry in January 2008 issued 122 new licencesto applicants who complied with Letter of Intent conditionsfirst, says the one-man committee report.

Retired Justice Shivraj Patil who went into proceduresfollowed by DoT from 2001 to 2009, has pointed out that the"said decision was based on the contents of letter of theMinister (A Raja) dated 26.12.2007 addressed to the PrimeMinister."

Raja, in his letter to the Prime Minister, had said thatthe decision was taken by the DoT on October 17, 2007, basedon TRAI recommendation that no cap be placed on number ofaccess service providers in a service area.

In order to encourage more competition in the telecomsector, the DoT has decided to grant new licences in a 3-stageprocess. First, by issuing LoI followed by issuance of licenceand then grant of wireless licence, which includes spectrum.

The decision was not even placed before the TelecomCommission as per mandatory guidelines, Patil said in hisreport.

According to the report, the decision was taken by noteput up by AK Srivastava then DDG (AS) and endorsed by KSridhara, member (Technology) and Siddharth Behura, thensecretary of the department and finally approved by theMinister.

A procedure was formulated as per which applicationsreceived up to September 25, 2007 were to be processed andalso to grant priority on the basis of date of compliancewith LoI.

This procedure was notified through a press release onJanuary 10, 2008 at 1.47 PM. The press release was publishedon websites of DoT and Press Information Bureau only, withoutindividual written communications to all applicants.

On the same day a second press release was issued by DoTat 2.45 PM, which asked all applicants to collect LoIs on thesame day between 3.30 and 4.30 PM. The second press releasewas published only on website of DoT, the report said.

Patil report has said that this step of DoT was opposedto the requirements of transparency and fairness in theprocess.

Second press release requiring all applicants tosimultaneously collect LoIs in effect took away the priorityacquired by applicants who had submitted the applicationsearlier.

These press releases were issued under signature of DDG(AS) A K Srivastava and no records are available to show ifany approval was obtained before issuing second press release.

The said official appears to be responsible for these lapses,the report said.

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