The Genii Of 2-G Spectrum Scam

The India TV carried a news story from the Pioneer Newspaper on Sept 24, about the deposition of D. Subbarao, the Reserve Bank of India(RBI) Governor, who was the Finance Secretary at the time the licensing and pricing of the 2-G spectrum was being decided by the then Telecom Minister A. Raja in consultation with the then Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram. Obviously, the Finance Secretary and the Finance Minister were not in agreement. The Finance Secretary seems to be in favour of revision of prices to 2007 level, whereas the Minister (Telecom) was interested in 2001 prices. He was trying to make the Finance Secretary agree to prices at 2007 level, for which he was trying to influence the Finance Minister. The disagreement necessitated several rounds of consultations among them. The finance secretary appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on february3, 2011, reportedly made the following depositions:

*he fairly and regularly apprised the finance minister, P. Chidambaram, of the moves of the Telecom Minister A. Raja, to allot spectrum at 2001 prices without auction;

* There were several consultations with the Finance Minister (Chidambaram) at several stages;

* I was discussing with the Finance Minister, fairly regularly on telecom sector issues;

* Sir, there may not be a paper trail, but there was certainly discussion going on. Sir, as you know — you have been a Minister yourself in the Government — not everything is on paper or reduced to writing. Maybe there were some file endorsements, but I cannot recall them because the note file is not here;

* I do not recall having said specifically that we should go back to the Cabinet. That I cannot really say without seeing the file. But I should have briefed the Finance Minister about the ongoing discussions;

* We (Government) were always arguing on the basis of level playing field rather than on the basis of any growth dimensions that might have subsidised. And if they (Ministers) have chosen so, then as a civil servant, I could not contest that.



The last line of the foregoing deposition ( if it is true), gives away the whole case of the defenders of the spectrum scam as nothing serious and unlawful.” And if they (Ministers) have chosen so, then as a civil servant, I could not contest that.”

Even when the evidence proves beyond any reasonable doubt the culpability of the perpetrators of the financial scam, the incumbent Law Minister has made some untenable statements on the issue. No minister other than the finance minister has any right to speak anything on the note sent  by the incumbent Finance Minister (Pranab Mukherjee) to the PM in March this year on the subject. The Law Minister has not been fair to himself by taking the liberty to interpret the note in any manner. In fact, he has disappointed  many by presenting the picture of the younger set of political leaders as utterly hopeless. Even the politicians being investigated for possessing disproportionate  assets (euphemism for corruption) case are superior to such young politicians.

Such notes are written with so much care that not even a comma or a full stop can be moved from the text from its assigned place to a new place. Nothing goes to the PM without being approved by the Minister incharge  of the Ministry.That  is why the note ends with a separate para containing only the words “This issues with the approval of the Minister(…) or the …Minister has seen it”. The Law Minister has gravely erred in insinuating carelessness on the part of the writer (he ignores even the small detail that the signing officer is not the only writer of the note-it is not his personal news paper story but an office note).The process of preparing a note for the PM is elaborate and strict. So the Law Minister would serve his political image better by keeping himself away from the misplaced bravado of interpreting the finance ministry note.

The factual position is contained in the note. Someone has to own the responsibility. If the PM demands, Subba Rao can deliver to him a note containing every minute detail of all the meetings in a chronological order within less than 24 hours. What do the defenders of the scamsters think of the capabilities of high ranking Civil Servants? They should appreciate their value by being aware of just one of them, namely Dr Sreedharan, the metro man. They would do better to note that many more remain  anonymous . The government’s face is the Minister, but the strength is the anonymous civil servant, who refuses to become complicit in corrupt practices (which may be the compulsions of a politician).Nobody should try to intimidate the officer  who signed the note for the PM, which was approved by the Finance Minister(P.Mukherjee). No silly attempts should be made to hold out gentle threats regarding his service career because he is just a Deputy Director. Such feudalistic attitude on the basis of his rank will prove costly if tried again as bundles of damaging documents will turn out to be the Wiki Leaks of India. In the government stable, the honesty of even a chaprasi (peon) matters and who knows it better than the election contesting politician, who warmly greets him as a Polling Officer at the Polling Booth!

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