Shourie to appear before CBI in telecom policy probe

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New Delhi, Feb 13 (PTI) Former Telecom Minister ArunShourie will appear before the CBI next week in connectionwith the agency''s probe into possible criminal aspects in thetelecom policy since 2001.

The CBI approached Shourie last week asking him toappear before the agency in connection with the PreliminaryEnquiry registered by the agency following a direction fromthe Supreme Court.

The PE was registered against "unknown persons" withan aim to ascertaining as to whether the"first-come-first-serve basis" provision passed by the thenCabinet led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee was followed or not,officials said here.

However, Shourie said that someone had called his homewhen he was away and that he later conveyed to the agency thathe will appearing before it on February 21 after his returnfrom Kolkata.

The CBI was likely to go into the minutes of themeetings held by successive Telecom Ministers which includedlate Pramod Mahajan, Shourie and Dayanidhi Maran.

According to the CBI, nearly 50 licences were givenout on the first-come-first-serve basis and Bharti, Vodafoneand Idea were among the beneficiaries of the policy.

The CBI would go into the documents of the companieswho have been awarded the contracts.

Shourie said that he would be handing over somedocuments to the CBI during his appearance before the agencyon February 21.

The Supreme Court had on December 16 last year directedthe agency to widen its investigation to cover the grant oflicences by both the NDA and the UPA regimes between 2001-2007and submit a report.

The apex court had made it clear that the emphasis ofthe investigation would be to determine the loss of money tothe public exchequer and said a progress report on the probehas to be filed by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate in asealed cover.

Holding that prima facie "serious irregularities" havebeen found in issuance of 122 licences, the court haddelivered a seven-point direction to the CBI and ED saying itwas satisfied that allegations need a thorough and impartialinvestigation.

Shourie, who held the telecom portfolio between January2003 and May 2004 in the NDA regime, had said he was not surewhat made the apex court widen the scope of the probe from2001.

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