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I never said zero loss if spectrum was auctioned

New Delhi: Targeting the BJP for alleged lapses in spectrum allocations during the NDA regime, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on Tuesday said he never said there would be zero loss to the exchequer if the radio frequency was auctioned.

"I never said if spectrum were auctioned it would fetch no price…if spectrum was auctioned the price would be zero," Sibal said in the Rajya Sabha, moving a motion for setting up a Joint Parliamentary Committee to go into the 2G spectrum scam.

Sibal was under attack for his observations that there was a zero loss, in contrast to the CAG findings which pegged the presumptive loss at Rs 1.76 lakh crore because of alleged irregularities in spectrum allocation in 2007.

When the Telecom Minister said there was nothing wrong in the spectrum allocation policy, he was asked why then his predecessor A Raja was in jail.

"…. the possibility of criminal culpability is the reason why he (Raja) has been prosecuted," Sibal said, adding that there was also a possibility that there were irregularities in implementation of the policy.

He said both the one-man committee appointed by the Telecom Ministry and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had found "that the process of implementation was in fact manipulated."

He said, "Government is looking at it very carefully.

Action will be taken. CBI is looking into criminality part of it. Law must take its course. No body will be spared in criminal culpability."

Seeking to turn the table on BJP, he said the then NDA government had allotted spectrum without recommendations of the regulator TRAI even on the eve of Lok Sabha elections.

Just before the results of Lok Sabha elections were announced on May 16, 2004, three licences were given to a particular entity in three circles. All that will be discussed in JPC, Sibal said.

He said the NDA regime had announced shifting of the licensing policy to revenue sharing policy when it was a caretaker government.

Without taking any name, Sibal described as regrettable the remarks of a former member of the House against former Supreme Court judge Shivraj Patil, who chaired the one-man committee that examined spectrum allocation from 2001.

He said the Parliamentary panel should look into the larger question of technology being available at affordable price in telecom. There is no point providing a service which a "consumer cannot afford".

It is "for us as a nation to look at how policy should be formulated," Sibal said, adding "policy of this magnitude should be done through consensus of political parties and in the forum of Parliament."

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