Thursday, December 30, 2010


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cong cocks a snook at law - The Grand Old Party Prefers Political Gains To Letting Law Take Its Own Course

Withdrawing cases against certain groups or individuals following an agitation or due to political reasons seems to be the standard practice of the Congress governments in the state.However,this time around,the Congress regime had to annul its own decision as it was the same government that had booked the cases against students of all the three regions following their agitation for and against creation of Telangana since December last year. Starting from cases filed after the murder of Congress MLA Vangaveeti Mohan Ranga Rao to present cases of pro-Telangana and united state movements, successive Congress governments never hesitated to withdraw cases if such decision gave a political advantage. Congress MLA Vangaveeti Mohan Ranga Rao was brutally murdered in the early hours of December 25,1988,in Vijayawada when he was on an indefinite fast to demand personal security.His murder sparked unprecedented caste riots in the entire coastal Andhra region,leading to scores of deaths and destruction of properties worth crores of rupees.Police filed more than 2,500 cases against thousands of people.

However,in 1989,when the Congress came back to power defeating the Telugu Desam Party,the then chief minister M Chenna Reddy issued a GO,withdrawing all cases filed against those indulged in violence following Rangas murder.More than 1,415 cases were lifted by the then Congress government though many of the cases related to arson,violence,assault and damage to public and private property.
After Y S Rajasekhara Reddy came to power in 2004,thousands of cases filed during the electricity movement, that was actually spearheaded by the Congress with the support of the two Left parties,were withdrawn. But after the Left parties parted ways with the Congress,the cases filed against the Left cadres following their land struggle were not withdrawn.CPM leaders have alleged that YSR had instructed the district police not to withdraw cases or expedite the trial.Thousands of our cadres were imprisoned in the land struggle.We believe the YSR government did this to avenge our parting of ways, said CPM leader Y Venkateswarlu.

Later,acting on the representations submitted by the MIM,YSR took a controversial decision and lifted 1.16 lakh cases filed by APTransco against those who pilfered power ahead of the 2009 elections. In an unusual act,the YSR government issued GO No.379 on November 29,2008,lifting all the cases against the domestic consumers,which were under investigation.Following this order,the power utilities lost Rs 11.57 crore of assessed money.Though the government had to reimburse the same to the power companies,it has not materialized till date. We charge-sheeted thousands of power thieves in the state but in one single stroke,all of them were set free.What would be the morale of employees involved in the investigation questioned an anguished official. Police officials are unhappy over the present developments and are fear more aggression from the students post December 31 as they are now confident that even if the police file cases against them,they can be lifted following the intervention of political leaders.

PRESSURE TACTICS: Supporters of Congress MPs Ponnam Prabhakar,Sarve Satyanarayana and G Vivek exult as their leaders end their fast following the announcement of withdrawal of all cases against the Telangana students,in Hyderabad on Tuesday
Lifting of cases challenged in HC

Awrit petition was filed in the AP High Court on Tuesday,challenging the action of the government in withdrawing cases against the students of both Seemandhra and Telangana who indulged in arson and other offences.Alokam Sudhakar Babu,a resident of Guntur district,filed this petition.By withdrawing the cases,the state government committed some illegalities,he said.During the agitations,Rs 300 crore worth public and private property was damaged,he said and urged the court to quash the GOs issued for withdrawing the cases.
Andhra JAC flays withdrawal of cases:

Taking strong objection to the indiscriminate withdrawal of cases against the students of all the regions, the Samaikya Andhra students JAC warned the state government that their decision would only help rise in the violence post-December 31 in the Telangana region.The student leaders from all the 14 universi-ties in the coastal and Rayalaseema regions met in Guntur at Acharya Nagarjuna University campus to discuss the future action plan post submission of the Srikrishna Committee report.Speaking to media, the student JAC leaders demanded that the MPs,ministers and MLAs from the Samaikya Andhra region should get ready to quit their posts in case the Srikrishna panel recommends the separation of the state.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Employees may not be able to challenge CAT judgement in SC

NEW DELHI: Bad news is in store for government employees contesting matters relating to their service conditions in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) as they may not be able to challenge the judgement in the Supreme Court. Government employees not satisfied with CAT orders on their service matters will continue to appeal in High Courts as government's plan to enable them approach the apex court directly has received a thumbs down from the top law officer.

Recently, the Department of Personnel had asked the Law Ministry whether the present system of CAT orders being challenged in High Courts be changed to fast track disposal of cases of government employees relating to their service conditions and employment rules. The Law Ministry referred the matter to Attorney General Ghoolam Vahanvati who opined against the move saying a 1997 Supreme Court judgement on the issue should continued to be followed. "As of now, the buck stops here (on the issue)," Law Minister M Veerappa Moily told PTI when asked to comment on Vahanvati's opinion.

He said his ministry was trying to find a solution. "But I would not like to add anything more to it," he added. When the CAT was established in 1985 by an Act of Parliament, its rules clearly stated that its judgements on service related matters of state and central government employees can only be challenged in the apex court. While the same rules is in operation even today, a 1997 Supreme Court ruling held that judicial review is the basic feature of the Constitution and a High Court's power on judicial review cannot be taken away.

After the judgement, appeals against CAT rulings were entertained in High Courts. "The Armed Forces Tribunal Act has been borrowed from CAT. Appeals against Tribunal's orders can only be challenged in the Supreme Court. But in CAT's case, it has become a three tier system...the entire purpose of CAT has been defeated," said a CAT functionary. He said while CAT usually disposes off a case in six months, appeal in High Court often takes years. "They pay Rs 50 as fee to move CAT, but they have to pay thousands of rupees in High Court...if the matter reaches Supreme Court, the time and cost involved is massive," he said.
(source-Economic Times)


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Prosecute Rane,babus,CEC urges SC - CIC Unmasks Diversion Of Forest Land Worth Crores In Maharashtra

New Delhi: After Adarsh society,a new scam illegal diversion of huge tracts of forest land worth hundreds of crores of rupees for a pittance to developers in Pune is staring at the Maharashtra Govt.  The main player appears to be industries minister Narayan Rane,who in his earlier avatar as revenue minister approved the illegal allotment of forest land for private purposes.The Central Empowered Committee (CEC),in its report to the Supreme Court, has recommended his prosecution.

The charge: Rane as revenue minister in the Shiv Sena government in 1999 approved the allotment of forest land for cultivation purposes and the allottee was a mere intermediary for subsequent transfer of the land without mandatory clearance from the Centre under Forest Conservation Act (FCA) to builders at a very low price. Rane was revenue minister from 1996-1999 in the Shiv Sena government before heading it as chief minister for a brief period in 1999.He quit Sena in 2005 and joined Congress,which inducted him as revenue minister,a position he enjoyed till December 2008 and again for a year from November 2009. CEC has also recommended prosecution of the then divisional commissioner of Pune who granted permission for sale of the land in favour of the private person for construction of buildings, then deputy conservator of forest Ashok Khadse for issuing the 'no-objection certificate' and builder Aniruddha P Deshpande.

The report, which was submitted to the SC after a site visit by CEC chairman PV Jayakrishnan,member secretary M K Jiwrajika and amicus curiae ADN Rao,said,"Senior functionaries and officers of the government of Maharashtra,responsible for the allotment/use of the said reserve forest in violation of the FC Act and SC's December 12,1996,order,should be prosecuted for criminal breach of trust and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code."

The modus operandi of diversion of forest land in favour of Richie Rich and Greenfield Cooperative Housing Societies was to allot the forest land for agricultural purposes to a person and then surreptiti-ously transfer them to builders for a song. "It is clear that the said land was never intended to be used for agriculture.On the contrary,it was a ploy to give the land to the builder society for construction of multistoreyed buildings with a view to make windfall profits,"the CEC said. "The allottees of the land thus appear to be mere intermediaries and also appear to be there only to facilitate transfer of the land to the actual beneficiaries,namely the society,at a ridiculously low valuation,"the CEC said and recommended cancellation of land allotment to the two societies.

But this is not all.The CEC feels that these two societies were part of a huge racket involving politician-bureaucratbuilder nexus responsible for illegal diversion of forest land to realtors."Large tracts of forest area in Maharashtra,including reserved forest,are also under the administrative control of revenue department,"it said. The CEC chairman has sought permission from the Forest Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia to "constitute a multi-disciplinary special investigation team (SIT) to examine details of all reserve forests under the administrative control of revenue department in Pune and which have been allotted/allowed to be used in the past without obtaining approval under the FC Act".


Thursday, December 23, 2010


Goa guv summoned for refusing info under RTI

Panaji: The Goa Information Commission has summoned Governor Dr S S Sidhu for claiming that the Right to Information Act didnt apply to his office.Such a summon to the holder of highest constitutional office in a state is perhaps unprecedented. The panel took umbrage at the governors bid to escape accountability under RTI by claiming that his office wasnt a public authority as defined in the law.

The governors stand flies in the face of the Act under which all government offices,including Rashtrapati Bhavan,PMO and SC,are public authorities.The only organisations exempted are the intelligence agencies and paramilitary forces.

On Wednesday,the commission sent the notice directing the governor to personally appear before the state chief information commissioner at 10.30am on January 4,2011.This was after the governors office blocked information sought by social activist Aires Rodrigues on a case related to advocate-general Subodh Kantak.Rodrigues subsequently moved state information commission headed by Motilal Keny,a retired sessions judge from Mumbai,on Tuesday.The complainant said he was refused information under RTI on the grounds that the governor wasnt a public authority and didnt come within the purview of the transparency law.Rodrigues in his application had also sought copies of noting sheets and correspondence pertaining to the processing of his complaints against the AG.The notice sent to the governor,a copy of which is with TOI,said: You are required to appear before this commission in person and not to depart hence without leave of the commission and you are hereby warned that if you shall,without just excuse,neglect or refuse to appear on the aforesaid date and time,failing which the complaint will be decided in your absence.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


New Delhi: Touts and middlemen - that ubiquitous tribe in local government and utility offices who expedite work for a payment - will soon be an endangered species. Their work will now be done free of cost by professionals --lawyers and para-legal workers -- under an ambitious scheme that plans to set up a legal aid clinic (LAC) in every village.

This scheme was approved recently by the apex body of National Legal Services Authority (NLASA),which included Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia and the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court Justice Altamas Kabir. Though the main aim of these legal aid clinics,which will function from panchayat offices in villages,is to help solve disputes without allowing them to mature into litigation in courts,the lawyers and para-legal workers would also render other services like preparing applications for job cards under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

Women with law degree and three to four years practice at a local court would be given preference for appointment as lawyers in the legal aid clinic,said member secretary of NALSA,U Sarathchandran.
Lawyers will get not less than Rs 500 per visit to the LAC while a para-legal worker will get Rs 250 per day.The LAC lawyers and para-legal workers will "liaison with the government offices and public authorities and help the common people to solve their problems with the officials", he said. "Legal aid clinic shall work like a single-window facility for helping people to solve their problems where the operation of law comes into the picture,"Sarathchandran said.

Dealing with local disputes between villagers,the LAC would work for an amicable settlement and if the lawyer felt the need for more professional intervention to stop it from reaching the courts,he/she would seek help from the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA). "Lawyers rendering legal services in the LAC may request the DLSA to send Mobile Lok Adalat Van with members of the Lok Adalat Branch for visiting the LAC for settlement of the disputes identified by him/her,"the member secretary said.Interestingly,NALSA plans to involve law students in the working of the LAC scheme.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Now,eSeva centres to issue caste,income certificates

Hyderabad: From January 1,citizens seeking caste,residence proof,income and no objection certificates (NOC) for land demarcation can apply at designated eSeva centres instead of making rounds to tehsil-dars offices in Hyderabad district. The designated eSeva centres will issue these certificates to applicants within the stipulated time,according to the citizens charter.Hyderabad collector Natarajan Gulzar on Saturday took this crucial decision to avoid delay in issuance of utilisation certificates at a review meeting with revenue officials here.Henceforth,all services currently being provided at tehsildar offices would be linked with eSeva centres.As a result,the burden of issuing caste,residence and income certificates on tehsildars would be reduced completely.

The applicants have to apply and receive certificates from eSeva centres itself by paying a nominal amount,the collector said.Two eSeva centres in each mandal have been identified for providing these service to citizens. MANDAL & eSEVA CENTRES

Asif Nagar mandal - Vijaya Nagar Colony and Rethi Bowli

Khairatabad - Khairatabad and Sanjeevareddy Nagar

Musheerabad - Ramnagar and Musheerabad

Amberpet - Nallakunta and Malakpet

Golconda - Rethi Bowli

Marredpally - Vijayapuri Colony and Marredpally

Charminar - Santosh Nagar and Bahadurpura

Shaikpet - Road No.7,Banjara Hills

Saidabad - Santosh Nagar and Malakpet

Nampally - Koti and Gagan Vihar

Secunderabad - Paradise,Hari Hari Kala Bhavan

Ameerpet - S R Nagar

Himayathnagar - Chikkadpally and Domalguda

Trimulgherry - Trimulgherry

Bahadurpura - Bahadurpura

Bandlaguda - Santosh Nagar

Tainted Prasar Bharati CEO faces suspension

New Delhi: The I&B ministry has moved for suspension of controversial Prasar Bharati CEO BS Lalli. The note that has been sent to the Prime Ministers Office includes additional solicitor general Mohan Parasarans recommendation that Lallis continued presence may impede working of the national broadcaster and the officer should be suspended pending the Supreme Court inquiry on financial irregularities raised by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

The letter will have to be sent by the government to President Pratibha Patil for her assent as mandated under the Prasar Bharati Act.The move comes over a week after the President gave her nod for a SC inquiry into the financialwrongdoings in the running of Prasar Bharati.If suspended,curtains will finally come down on Lallis tenure that has been marked by several controversies the latest being the outsourcing of broadcast of the Commonwealth Games to a little known UK-based firm SIS Live.Despite financial allegations,Lalli has been firm in his defence welcoming the inquiry and hoping that the true picture would emerge.He has dismissed the CVC report and its findings as baseless allegations.The CVC report had found fault on five counts.He has been accused of breach of Parliamentary privilege,giving undue favours to some broadcast companies and financial mismanagement.Lalli (63),a 1971 batch IAS officer of the UP cadre,has been engaged in a feud with the Prasar Bharati Board on running the organisation.Earlier,on August 2,ASG Parasaran had asked the I&B ministry to refer Lallis case to the President and subsequently for a Supreme Court inquiry to initiate his removal as there was enough prima-facie evidence in the CVC report.The report with the recemmendations was sent to the PMO,who sent it back to the law ministry for a second opinion.

Attorney general Goolam E Vahanvati in his opinion said the CEO should be given a chance to give his version of the events.
HC slaps 25K fine on Hyderabad collector

Hyderabad: Finding fault with the revenue authorities for acting in an overzealous manner in taking possession of an abandoned plot measuring 3,000 square yards in the prime area of Road No 3,Banjara Hills,Justice C V Nagarjuna Reddy of the A P High Court has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the district collector,Hyderabad.The collector,who should pay this money within four weeks,can recover the same from the officials responsible for this act,the judge said. Delivering his judgment following a petition filed by Deepthi Avenues Pvt Ltd,which challenged the seizure of the land,the judge observed that if the revenue authorities had a genuine case to take possession of the plot,they should have followed a due process of law after giving the petitioner an opportunity for being heard.In their haste,the officials not only overstepped their authority but resorted to unethical practices and undermined the rights of a citizen,the judge said.By doing so,they not only lose the confidence of the people but mislead the courts, he said.

The petitioner had purchased the property from one Ameena Begum.He showed to the officials the court orders declaring the land as private property.But,according to the petitioner,on September 10,2010,the revenue authorities went to the site along with police,removed his sign board and installed another one indicating the land as government property.The revenue authorities claimed that their action was in accordance with section 9 of the A P Escheats and Bona Vacantia Act,1974.The Act states that where there is no rightful owner (bona vacantia ) or the owner of the property dies without leaving any legal heir (Escheat),such property is vested in the state. However,the judge said that the Act provided for an elaborate procedure involving making proper enquiry,publication of notices and reference to the court for declaration of a property as an escheat or bona vacantia,the judge said.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


December 6,2010-Your company was beneficiary of this policy flip-flop and you chose to accept the benefits
Dear Mr Tata,

It is with considerable concern and some confusion that I have watched your recent television Interviews and press statements following the 2G scam and the exposure of the infamous Nira Radia tapes.I,as countless other Indians,have held the house of Tatas in great esteem and respect have seen them as being different from so many other Indian corporates that play by a different set of rules and values.I,along with many Indians,consider JRD Tata as one of the true builders of modern India.

So,it is with considerable sadness and dismay that I am constrained to write this open letter to you.I trust you will not consider this as personal,since my letter has to do with issues of principle and conduct that are disturbing.In your recent press interactions,you have made the point that the 2G scam needs to be investigated and have made several sub-points,including:
1.Out-of-turn allocation of spectrum;

2.Hoarding of spectrum by incumbent operators;and

3.Flip-flop of policy

Let me wholeheartedly agree with you. Many in media and public life including me,have been saying this for several years now,so your belated realization of these critical issues is very welcome.I sympathize with your concern about public policy making in our country sometimes resembling that of a Banana Republic.But the forces behind this are helped considerably by the fact that people with power and influence remain silent and passive spectators to this.So many including I would have welcomed your intervention much earlier,as in the case of the alleged bribing offer 15 years ago,of Rs 15 cr that you referred to only recently.You will agree that speaking out against corruption is most effective when it is happening and not decades or years later.Because then it becomes an intellectual post mortem,and not active resistance.Since I was previously a telecom entrepreneur,there will be a temptation for those that advise you,to attribute agenda and motivations to this letter of mine.But I assure you that there is none.I write because I believe that there is a need to join you in this debate and necessarily bring to your attention the contradictions between your stand and the position of the Tata telecom companies,that you may be unaware of,given your senior position in your organization.

1.Out-of-turn allocation of spectrum: According to the CAG Report,the potential loss to Exchequer on account of dual technology licenses at 3G rates is Rs 37,154 cr. By virtue of dual technology according to the CAG your company has caused a loss to the exchequer to the tune of approx Rs 19074.8 cr.But it is not just this.It is a fact that the Tata Group is a beneficiary of outof-turn spectrum.In fact,one of the biggest of them all.It is a fact admitted by the Government on affidavit that 575 applications were received for 2G spectrum by October 1,2007.Using an illegal and arbitrary cut-off date, Mr Raja processed only 122 applications received till 25 September,2007.110 were rejected and 343 applications were put in abeyance.Given the fact that there is no 2G spectrum available,these applications received till October 1,2007 (within the date represented by the Government) have now been put in the dustbin.In fact,the TRAI had already recommended on May 11,2010 that no more UASL license with bundled spectrum can be given.This means that these 343 applications will never be processed and will never see spectrum.In the meantime,19 days after these 575 applications were received,the dual technology policy was announced through a press release by Mr Raja.The Tatas put in their dual technology applications around October 22.So,in effect,their application went in three weeks after the 575 2G applications were received.Today,Tatas already have GSM spectrum allocated and GSM service launched in most of the circles.But the 343 applications submitted three weeks before the Tata Group have neither been processed nor have any chance of ever being processed so much for First Come,First Serve.

You will accept that this seems to be a case of arriving late,forming a new queue,jumping the priority and accusing others of getting priority on spectrum allocation and meets your point of out-ofturn allocation of spectrum.I am sure the 373 applicants who were rejected for no fault of theirs,will agree while the Tata Group has sold its equity for billions of dollars to NTT DoCoMo based on its out-of-turn GSM allocation on dual technology policy.In my humble opinion,evidence suggests that the Tatas have benefited from out-of-turn spectrum allocation.The dispute between Tatas and Reliance Comm inter se on the allocation sequence cannot dilute the primary fact of bypassing other early applicants to this spectrum.

2.Hoarding of spectrum by incumbent operators: This is an important point you have raised.I concur with you that there is a need for telcos,old or new,to pay market rates for spectrum.I also completely agree that the subscriber-linked criteria allocation of spectrum is flawed and is encouraging fudging and false subscriber numbers.But I bring to your attention,that this is existing Government policy flawed or unfortunate as it may be,and the only solution to this is to replace this with a new policy.If by hoarding, you mean having more spectrum than number of subscribers that can be serviced then please note that Tata holds spectrum both for GSM and CDMA.Based on the spectrum that Tata has, its average efficiency is perhaps the lowest amongst the large operators.Equally,that the CDMA spectrum that Tata holds is 3-4 times more efficient than the GSM operators by its own admission,which I recall during the WLL scam.Moreover,Tata has received CDMA and GSM spectrum at 2001 rates.So even if the hoarding charge was to apply,it would also apply to the Tatas for having maximum cumulative efficiency (CDMA and GSM) to serve the least number of subscribers amongst the incumbents.Again,I fully support the need to price spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz with incumbent operators at market rates.But the charge of hoarding that you make applies equally to Tata Tele whether it is total spectrum held,or subscribers served based on that spectrum,or price paid to acquire such spectrum,vis--vis the cumulative efficiency of CDMA and GSM.

3.Flip-flop of policy: In your interview,you have pointed out that a lot of the current dysfunctionality in telecom has arisen from policy changes and flipflops.You would recall that one of the most horrific distortions of policy was the infamous WLL scam in 2001 where telecom companies with fixed service licenses managed to muscle their way into cellular with active support of policy makers of that time and not to forget that it was all done in the name of benefit to the common man! You will further recall that in 2003,a convenient set of recommendations by the TRAI and Government allowed this illegality to be regularized through the UASL policy,opening the gates to unprecedented and unique (and unheard of) First Come,First Served form of licensing bypassing tenders (a form of auction) that were the norm for obtaining cellular licenses till then.Your company was the beneficiary of this policy flip-flop and you chose to accept the benefits of this flip-flop at that time despite this blatant violation and distortion.I am personally aware because I led the fight against it and remember being immensely disappointed at the Tata Groups remarkably selfserving position.Further,in one of the most mysterious and indefensible acts,Tata Group took on board as a consultant,the very individual,who as the chairman of TRAI was the architect of this UASL and other shames.

So in summary and respectfully,your positions in the recent interviews seem to be in stark contrast with the actual conduct,performance and position of Tatas telecom companies in each of the three points you have raised.There are several other questions that deserve answers,including why a group like Tata with its sterling character and reputation requires outside lobbyists to lobby on their behalf ! That,in itself,is enough to shatter ones confidence! I reiterate that this letter is not meant to tarnish or disrespect or distract from the many achievements of the Tata Group including the acquisition of international brands like Land Rover,Jaguar and its increasingly global footprint.But I believe,on behalf of many erstwhile supporters of the Tata group,that it is my duty to seek and spotlight the truth.The Tata Group has a responsibility,and indeed,owes it to its many admirers in India to actually live up to its image of ethical conduct,otherwise your statements and actions will seem to be hypocrisy something thats already available in plenty in our public and corporate life.


Member of Parliament
December 8,2010 - Certain powerful politically-connected operators have subverted policy,and have de facto ownership in several new telecom firms.

Dear Rajeev

Iam currently overseas and have just seen a copy of the open letter you have addressed to me with copies to the entire media community.This is of course in keeping with the current trend of attempted character assassination through widespread media publicity couched in pain and concern for upholding ethics and values.Your letter is based on untruths and distortion of facts and it is essential that I place the real facts,as bluntly as possible before you.I hope this will also be broadly disseminated to the same audience as your letter.I am of course well aware that some media houses will choose not to publish or air my response in deference of their owners,who are the real gainers in the telecom sector,with whom you have unfortunately aligned to provide a massive diversion of attention away from the real culprits in the telecom space.You will appreciate that the Governments stated telecom policy of 1999 set out the principles of a technology neutral environment.When cellular mobile telephony was introduced,the first set of operators including yourself,chose GSM,the broadly used European technology at that time.The first set of cellular mobile operators received their licenses based on an auction process in circles for which some of them and their partners submitted very high bids.Later in July 1999,in a BJP-led NDA Government,in accordance with the recommendation of a Group of Ministers headed by Mr Jaswant Singh,the fixed license fee regime was changed to a revenue share regime (which exists even today).If a hypothetical amount was to be calculated similar to one that has been done in the CAG report,at that point of time,the loss to the exchequer would be about Rs.50,000 cr and the exchequer would have been deprived of this amount.Realistically,however,the revenue share system would have recouped some amount over time and this important change most probably has been responsible for the greater growth of the industry as it enabled tariffs to be reduced.

CDMA technology (a newer and more efficient technology),was utilized by some operators for fixed wireless operations such as PCOs and for last mile wireless connectivity for fixed line phones.The first attempted deviation from stated policy was in January 2001 when the then telecom minister,Mr Ram Vilas Paswan,in a BJP-led Government,sought to allow the fixed wireless application of CDMA for limited mobility on the grounds that it would be available to the public at a lower price.The GSM operators led by you mounted a campaign lobbying against this on the grounds that it would be unfair to the incumbents who had made investments and who had enjoyed first mover advantage.

You will recall that you and Nusli Wadia approached me in the Chambers in Taj Mumbai in July 2002 to sign an appeal to the then Prime Minister,Mr A B Vajpayee,Deputy Prime Minister,Mr Advani and Finance Minister Mr Jaswant Singh not to allow fixed mobile service providers to provide mobile services.I enclose a copy of your fax dated July 12,2002,requesting me to sign and the draft letter which I was supposed to sign.In para 2 of this letter your objective amongst other things was to reach a 50 million subscriber base by 2006.To refresh your memory,I enclose a copy of the letter dated August 16,2002,that I wrote to you expressing my inability to sign such a letter as it would block the introduction of CDMA technology and I believed that the telecom industry needed to be technology neutral but what I agreed with you was that any new operator should pay the same fee as the incumbents so that all operators were equalized and that no one was disadvantaged.As a result of a technology agnostic policy we achieved more than 100 million subscribers in 2006 and to date 700 million.I am also enclosing a copy of my letter to Mr Vajpayee dated January 12,2001,in which I advocated an open,transparent process giving all parties a chance to be heard a stance that I have not changed till date.This has angered you and the other operators who were not interested in a level playing field and lobbied aggressively through COAI to ensure that a technologically agnostic environment would not come to pass.It is obvious that an industry driven by technology cannot confine itself to a single technology only because that was the technology employed by a handful of operators who derived early mover advantage,enjoyed high ARPUs and in fact thwarted new admittedly more efficient technology like CDMA.China,Korea and even the US have built their large subscriber numbers on the utilization of both CDMA and GSM technology.Growth could have been far greater had incumbent operators like yourself risen above their self interest of protecting their investment and allowing the existence of all technologies on an equal footing.

However,in pursuance of the spirit of NTP 1999,the Government did indeed implement the technology neutral policy in November 2003.The minister involved was Mr Arun Shourie in the same BJP-led NDA government.This was implemented through the creation of the UASL (unified access service licence) regime which enabled existing license holders to migrate to UASL license providing freedom of choice of technology and where a pan-India license could be obtained for a fee of about Rs 1,650 cr,the same fee paid by the successful fourth cellular mobile operator.Mr Shourie needs to be commended in implementing this far sighted policy,which has enabled technology to be the driver of the industry,rather than technology protected growth.

I will now briefly touch on the points you raised regarding TTSL (Tata Tele Services Ltd) and the alleged advantage they gained.I have requested TTSL to address those issues in greater detail to you directly. On the issue of various allegations you have made on the so called benefits gained by TTSL,so called out-of-turn allotment that you claim have been given by DoT,you have chosen to misrepresent the facts as they suit you to justify the claims you have made.The true position is that TTSL has not I repeat not been advantaged in any way by Mr Raja or any earlier minister.The company has strictly followed the applicable policy and has been severely disadvantaged,as you are well aware,by certain powerful politically connected operators who have willfully subverted policy under various telecom ministers which have subsequently been regularized to their advantage.

The same operators continue to subvert policy;and have even paid fees for spectrum,even before the announcement of a policy,and have de-facto ownership in several new telecom enterprises.Licenses were granted to several ineligible applicants.Several licensees have spectrum in excess of their entitlement as per license conditions and not on the self styled capacity spectrum efficiency that you have chosen to mention.This is the smoke screen that I am referring to as these subverters of government policy continue to do so to their advantage and their acts are being ignored or condoned.TTSL,on the other hand,as an existing licensee,applied for spectrum under the dual technology policy after the policy was announced on October 19,2007 and is still awaiting allotment of spectrum in Delhi and 39 key districts for about three years whereas operators who applied and paid the fee even before the policy announcement were not only considered ahead in line but were allotted spectrum with amazing alacrity in January 2008 itself.I am surprised that you have chosen to sidestep this very important aspect.

The investment by NTT DoCoMo in TTSL was not based on a zero base valuation,like others,but was based on the performance of the company with 38 million subscribers,pan-India presence of network,offices,channel,turnover of Rs.6000 cr,60000 km of fiber;and the potential growth of the company.The valuations are on the basis of a due diligence and service evaluation of the companys service quality by DoCoMo.

On the question of hoarding of spectrum which I have referred,you will no doubt remember that in 2005 I made an issue of the fact that spectrum was a scarce resource and needed to be paid for rather than given free as was being proposed.The government policy entitled operators no more than 6.2 MHz on the basis of their license conditions.All additional spectrum should have been returned or paid for.Even TRAI has recommended this in July 2010.I believe that TTSL was the only operator that returned spectrum when demanded by DoT.The CAG report clearly indicates which of the powerful GSM operators are holding spectrum beyond their entitlement free of cost and to the detriment of the other operators. On the question of many disadvantaged new applicants who have supposedly been denied licenses in 2007,you are well aware that many of the applicants were proxy shareholders in high places,and were applying to entering the sector with a view to monetize the license once received.Even those that were granted license and spectrum have failed to effect any meaningful rollout of services. Strangely,you have chosen to ignore this fact and singled out TTSL who have,in fact,put in place a network supporting 82 million subscribers,despite the fact that they have been deprived of spectrum in Delhi and the 39 key districts over the past 3 years as mentioned earlier.How could you or anybody possibly consider this to be a beneficial situation for TTSL

Let me address the question of the Tatas need for an external PR service provider.Ten years ago,Tatas found themselves under a campaign by corporate rivals to defame the ethics and value systems of the group which held it apart from the others in India.The campaign was instituted and sustained through an unholy nexus between certain corporates and the media through selected journalists.As Tatas did not enjoy any such captive connections in this environment,the Tata Group had no option but to seek an external agency focused at projecting its point of view in the media and countering the misinformation and vested interest view points which were being expressed.Vaishnavi was commissioned for this purpose and has operated effectively since 2001.You yourself have interacted with Niira Radia on some occasions in the past and it is therefore amazing that you should now,after nearly 9 years seek to question Tatas appointment of Vaishnavi.Also,the statement regarding Tatas employing Mr Baijal is completely false.Vaishnavi is neither owned by the Tata Group nor is the Tata Group Vaishnavis only client.Mr Baijal,whom you apparently dislike,is part of Noesis,(an affiliate of Vaishnavi in which Tatas have no ownership) and,as facts will show,on various occasions has differed with the Tata Group during his period in office and has not advocated or influenced telecom policy for the Tata Group in any way.You and many others have focused your attention on Ms Radia as corporate lobbyist.I would like to draw your attention to the following:

You parked yourself at the Taj Mahal Hotel Delhi for several months since 2002 which was the centre of operations for you to prevent entry of WLL Limited Mobility and CDMA as well as to interact with the polity and bureaucracy and with other operators to forge telecom policy of your choice.You did this in your own capacity as also as President of COAI (Cell Operators Association of India). You also constantly solicited support of CII.Would you not consider this as endeavour to influence or subvert policy To influence politicians or solicit support from selected corporates I take it that in your view this would not constitute lobbying.

Your affiliation with a particular political party is well known and it appears that their political aspirations and their endeavour to embarrass the Prime Minister and the ruling party may well have been the motivation behind your letter and the insinuations which you make.We should all note that many of the flip flops in the telecom policy occurred during the BJP regime.Whatever may be said,it must be recognized that the recent policy broke the powerful cartel which had been holding back competition and delaying implementation of policies not to their liking,such as growth of CDMA technologies,new GSM entrants,revision in subscriber based spectrum allocation norms,and now even number portability.You yourself have publically commended in November 2007 such initiatives and the minister for breaking the cartel and reducing the cost of service to the customer.

The 2G scam ostensibly revolved around Mr Rajas alleged misdeeds and some parts of the CAG report were quoted as having indicted the minister.Much has been made about the hypothetical loss to the exchequer in the grant of new licenses and spectrum on the basis of 3G auction prices,(which were not known or even foreseen at the time of granting such licenses and spectrum ).However,the media and even you have chosen to ignore the rest of the CAG report in which excess possession of spectrum,the disadvantages to TTSL by name,the irregularity in allotment of licenses to most players whose applications were ineligible to be considered in the first place have been mentioned in great detail.You have also not noticed that CAG has not ascribed value to 48 new GSM licenses issued to incumbents during this period even though the CAG was supposed to cover the period from 2003.I would have thought that all this would have been of public interest and should have been widely reported.I have welcomed the ongoing investigations and sought that the period of investigation be extended to 2001 for the nation to know the real beneficiaries of the ad hoc policy-making and implementation.

Finally,you have chosen to lecture me on the responsibilities of upholding the ethics and values which the Tata Group has honored and adhered to through the years.I can say categorically that we have not wavered in upholding our values and ethical standards despite the erosion in the ethical fabric in the country and despite the efforts of others to draw us into controversy and endeavour to besmirch our record.When the present sensational smokescreen dies down,as it will,and the true facts emerge,it will be for the people of India to determine who are the culprits that enjoy the political patronage and protection and who actually subvert policy and who have dual standards.I can hold my head high and say that neither Tata Group or I have at any time been involved in any of these misdeeds.

The selective reporting and your own selective focus appear to be diversionary actions to deflect attention away from the real issue,which plagues the telecom industry,in the interest of a few powerful politically connected operators.Perhaps it is time that you and members of the media do some introspection and soul searching as to whether you have been serving your masters or serving the general public at large.

Warm regards,

Yours sincerely
December 9,2010-Your letter is exceptionally weak

Dear Mr Tata,

I welcome your joining this debate.It is an impor tant one and needs to be settled in full public view Unfortunately,your response is a typical one that ducks the main issues and instead attempts to shoot the messenger! I am only disappointed,but no longer surprised,that in sharp contrast to my efforts to go out of the way to keep this debate relating to facts and policy discus sions your letter is intensely personal,attributes fee ble motives (including amusing political ones) and most unbecoming of the House of Tatas.I can only think that this is a lapse in good judgment.I particu larly find your self-appointed defence of the Prime Minister and Government very irrelevant.

Nevertheless,I promise to keep my response dig nified and steadfastly refuse to fall to your level of per sonal attacks.On facts,your letter is not just excep tionally weak,but in fact,refuses to engage on the is sues that I had raised the yawning gap between what you say in public and what your companies do.While those remain unanswered,I will certainly reply short ly with my response.I promise to rebut your allega tions,claims and innuendo chapter and verse in the public domain.

Best regards

Member of Parliament

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

మాజీ టెలికాం మంత్రి ఎ.రాజా ఇంటిపై సిబిఐ దాడులు

2జీ స్పెక్ట్రమ్ కుంభకోణంలో అవినీతి ఆరోపణల అనంతరం మంత్రి పదవికి రాజీనామా చేసిన మాజీ టెలికాం మంత్రి ఎ.రాజా ఇంటిపై సెంట్రల్ బ్యూర్ ఆఫ్ ఇన్వెస్టిగేషన్ (సిబిఐ) ఆకస్మిక దాడులు నిర్వహించింది. రాజాతో పాటు ఈ కుంభకోణంతో సంబంధం ఉన్న వ్యక్తులు, రాజా సహచరులు, సోదరుడు పెరుమాళ్ ఇళ్లపై కూడా సిబిఐ దాడులు కొనసాగిస్తుంది.
డిల్లీ, చెన్నైలలో ఉన్న రాజా ఇళ్లపై బుధవారం ఉదయం 7.00 గంటల ప్రాంతంలో సిబిఐ దాడులు ప్రారంభించింది. రాజా వ్యక్తిగత కార్యదర్శి ఆర్‌కె ఛాందోలియా, మాజీ టెలికాం కార్యదర్శి బెహురియా, డిప్యూటీ డైరెక్టర్ జనరల్ ఆర్‌కె శ్రీనివాస్, ఏ శ్రీధర్ నివాసాలపై కూడా సిబిఐ దాడులు కొనసాగిస్తుంది.
కాగా.. నకిలీ మార్కుల షీటు కేసులో డాక్టర్ శ్రీధర్, ఆయన కుమారునికి బెయిల్ మంజూరు చేయాల్సిందిగా తనను బెదిరించారని మద్రాసు హైకోర్టు జడ్జి ఆర్.రఘుపతి పేర్కొన్న సంగతి తెలిసిందే. ఈ నేపథ్యంలో సిబిఐ దాడులు నిర్వహించడం ప్రాధాన్యతను సంతరించుకోనుంది. రాజా అక్రమ ఆస్తులకు సంబంధించిన వివరాలు సిబిఐ వెల్లడించాల్సి ఉంది.

Monday, December 6, 2010

LEGALLY SPEAKING-Nitish's Right to Service Act: Right move to turn RTI truly meaningful

The first step towards opening "secret" files maintained by civil servants and public authorities was taken by Parliament through Freedom of Information Act,2002.It was replaced by Right to Information Act in 2005. The objective was to give meaning to the word "civil servant".For,the babus had been groomed by the system to hide almost everything from those for whose service they were employed. Attitude is an important aspect of service,which has been sorely lacking in a majority of civil servants. Those who cleared tough competitive examinations to become civil servants behaved like masters.
Most of them felt that whatever they did,be it at block,district or state level,people should stay obliged, even though much more was expected of them.They moved around with an air and paraphernalia that people generally referred to them as "uncivil" servants.

With the RTI Act,citizens were empowered to find out where their file was struck.The law made it mandatory for civil servants and public authorities to give information promptly on the common man's query. Let us assume that RTI Act has been implemented to the T and every citizen now knows about the bottlenecks in completion of a particular work.But how does this knowledge help He can either write to higher authorities or move court seeking redressal of his grievance. Well,the courts are already deluged with cases and there is little chance of him getting early relief in matters pertaining to digging a tube well in a village or constructing a school. There is no guarantee that the higher authorities,generally sympathetic towards their peers,would do anything promptly to redress the grievance.

In this backdrop,the Nitish Kumar government's proposal to bring in Right to Service Act brings fresh hope of development catching pace in hitherto neglected hinterlands.It is probably time,after 60 years of India becoming a Republic and the free run the civil servants had till now,that the common man must get the right to point out which official was responsible for not getting the sanctioned work executed in villages and towns within the stipulated period.And it is about time for that civil servant to face the music from the real masters,the people of India.

Without the right to service,the RTI Act will be rendered meaningless as mere knowledge of what the babu has noted in the files is not enough.It must be supplemented by giving people the right to demand service from civil servants.This alone can make files get dusted out and catch pace and translate decisions to actual work on the ground.Right to service is explained as a key element in the Constitution's Directive Principles of State Policy.The preamble of the Constitution also promised to secure justice "social,economic and political" for the citizens.

Directive principles provided guidelines for creation of conditions in which citizens could,in the true sense,enjoy their fundamental rights. The importance of directive principles,embodying the essence of right to service,is explained by the Supreme Court in its judgment Mohini Jain vs State of Karnataka [1992 SCC (3) 666].

For example,it was promised by our leaders in Parliament in the 1950s that illiteracy would be wiped out within 10 years.Did it translate into enough primary schools The lack of enthusiasm towards this commitment had been discussed in the 1992 judgment. The SC had said,"The threepronged justice (social,economic and political) promised by the preamble is only an illusion to the teeming millions who are illiterate.It is education which equips a citizen to participate in achieving the objectives enshrined in the preamble."

Has the government been able to provide safe drinking water to all There are a host of urgent matters which have remained wrapped in red tape for decades.If the RTI Act is able to untie the red-tape and make information flow,then this knowledge would be rendered meaningless unless the common man is equipped with a legal right to put the 'civil servant' to task through Right to Service Act,which needs to be enacted by every state and the Centre,not Bihar alone.

CBI awaits govt nod to issue letter rogatory in CWG case-Wants To Clear Decks For Questioning UK-Based Firms Over Scam

CBI is yet to send letter rotagory (LR) for questioning UK-based Ashish Patel and getting financial details about his two firms which provided logistical support for the Queen's Baton Relay (QBR) of the Commonwealth Games allegedly at exorbitant rates.CBI has registered two cases in connection with QBR and has made three arrests. Agency officials said they were still in the process of sending the request to the home and foreign ministries which will give clearance for the LR."A detailed investiga-tion into the two cases has not been concluded and we have not made any arrest in the second case.The LR,which requires a probe into the role of Ashish Patel,will be sent once we have completed the probe at our end in both the cases,"a senior CBI official said. The agency said that since the probe would look into financial transactions of A M Films and A M Cars,it will have to send an LR through proper channel. "We have also sought the help of Enforcement Directorate which has already registered a case in this regard.This will help us to build our case against Ashish Patel and his two firms which are already under investigation,"the official said.

The agency said it hoped to get a clearance from the ministry of home affairs(MHA) soon and by next week,the documents would be routed through diplomatic channels to the UK for collecting evidence.The requests will be sent to authorities in UK,which will direct London police to question Patel,a businessman,on the name of the person who allegedly received kickbacks from him for the tender executed by his two firms -- A M Films and A M Cars -- for extending logistics for the relay.

Patel is facing a seven-year ban by the UK Registrar of Companies (RoC).As per the information given by the RoC,Patel has been disqualified as a director (of the London-based firms) from March 17,2010 till March 16,2017.The RoC cited Section 7 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act,1986 for barring him.The section deals with disqualification procedures and reasons for a director of an insolvent firm.

CBI,which registered the first case in the CWG corruption on November 15,arrested three senior officials and close aides of OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi.All three -- T S Darbari,Sanjay Mohindroo and M Jeychandran -- are presently in judicial custody.

The first case was registered under criminal conspiracy (120B),cheating (420),468 and 471 (forgery) of IPC and some sections of Prevention of Corruption Act against Darbari,Mohindroo and A M Cars and Vans.

CBI has alleged that the accused OC officials conspired with the London-based transport firm and awarded work to A M Cars and Vans at exorbitant rates without following the standard tender process.The second case was registered for criminal conspiracy and cheating under various sections of Prevention of Corruption Act against Darbari,Mohindroo and Patel's A M Films.
Babus unhappy with their stay at OC

In a move that has sparked sharp resentment among central officers deputed to the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee,the sports ministry has recommended that their tenures be extended till March 31 next year.The sports ministry's letter of November 29 is seen as arbitrary as the officers concerned have finished their brief at the Organising Committee and will have no further business to conduct once they have answered the queries of agencies like CVC,ED,CBI and the Shunglu committee.In fact,they feel these matters can be addressed even if they are not posted at the OC.The officers have been critical to the cabinet secretariat's success in leading a rescue operation after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened in the light of apprehension over OC's inability to stage Games.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


The government has, in principle, decided to set u a “National Mission for Delivery of Justice and Legal Reforms”, which inter-alia, propose to undertake strategic initiatives to reduce the period of pendency in the courts from an average of 15 years to an average of three years by 2012. The detailed action plan is to be formulated under various strategies by the National Mission when set up, taking into account also ongoing activities. For speedy disposal of cases Government have already implemented initiatives likes increase in strength of Judges in Supreme Court and High Courts, amendment in Cr. P.C. to limit the number of adjournments to three, enactment of Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008, Computerisation of Courts, release of funds as per Thirteenth Finance Commission recommendations for setting up of morning/ evening/ shift courts, strengthening alternative dispute Resolution system, Lok Adalats etc.

This information was given by the Law and Justice Minister, Dr. M. Veerappa Moily in Lok Sabha recently.

Friday, December 3, 2010


There is a good news for law graduates. The Bar Council of India has allowed the candidates who have filled forms for All India Bar Examination, to appear in the court by furnishing an undertaking to the state bar council. To ensure standards of legal practitioners, The Bar council of India had decided to take an All India Bar Examination of all pass outs. It was made mandatory to clear the exam for the candidates to be able to appear in the court and practise as an advocate. Earlier the date of examination was fixed on December 5 2010, but the exam is postponed to March 6, 2011.

The bar council have declared that the candidates who have filled up the forms for appearing in the All India Bar Examination will be permitted to appear in the court and directed them to wear the robes of advocates by furnishing an undertaking to the state bar council. BCI have directed all State Bar Councils to provisionally permit 2010 law graduates to practice law after accepting undertaking.
(By : Adv Archana)