New Delhi: Tatas have rejected Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa’s allegations of a quid pro quo between Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata and former Telecom Minister A Raja. The company claims no donation was made to a hospital in Raja’s constituency by Ratan Tata, as claimed by Balwa.
Balwa is accused of being one of the main beneficiaries in the 2G spectrum scam. In court yesterday, he targeted Ratan Tata and the CBI for going soft on him.
Balwa’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal argued that the CBI is biased towards Tata and has therefore targeted telecom companies selectively.
To back his claim, Mr Aggarwal produced in court, several letters between Mr Tata and former Telecom Minister A Raja.
In one such letter dated September 10, 2009, Raja wrote to Tata, “It was requested that the cheque of the of the entire amount of Rs. 20 crore may be made ‘as a special case’ as an upfront payment in the name of the hospital authorityI request you to please look into the matter personally to see that the entire amount of Rs. 20 crore is released to the Government of Tamil Nadu at the earliest”
Another letter produced by Balwa’s lawyer, dated September 15, 2009, shows Ratan Tata’s reply, explaining the delay in sending funds. He wrote: “I wish to inform you that we have never made a grant of this size to any external recipient in the Trust’s historyThe grant to the Perambalur Hospital was given as a very special case, after considerable deliberation amongst the Trustees, which include independent persons.”
Balwa’s alleged that there was a quid pro quo between Tata and Raja on spectrum allocation. Yet the CBI never investigated Tata, and is only going after companies like his.
Reacting to the allegations, Tata Sons in a statement have said, “We are not aware of the contents of the letters produced in the court. It is a fact that Mr RN Tata was approached in 2008-2009 about a grant of Rs. 20 crore from Tata Trusts for the Perambalur Medical College Hospital, but that grant was ultimately not given.” (Read: Tata Sons’ statement on Balwa’s allegations)
The statement also says, “The Trust had received a grant request in July 2007 to support the cost of upgradation of the medical facilities in the Government Hospital in Perambalur together with some taluka hospitals. The grant of Rs. 8 crore was sanctioned against this request. Of this sanctioned amount, only a sum of Rs. 3.26 crore was released by the Trust and spent by the hospital, towards the cost of a CT Scan machine and allied medical equipment to augment its facilities to treat the rural poor.”
Swan Telecom is one of the beneficiaries of the 2G scam and is alleged to be a front company for Anil Ambani owned Reliance Communications. Shahid Balwa is already in custody in connection with the case. He was arrested by the CBI on February 8.
In 2008, when he was Telecom Minister, A Raja gave away valuable spectrum at throwaway prices to companies including Balwa’s Swan Telecom. Balwa allegedly repaid Raja Rs. 214 crore. Investigators believe the bribe was paid via a Mumbai company named Cineyug Films to Kalaignar TV.
The spectrum allocation case led to the resignation of Telecom Minister A Raja. He was later arrested and is still in custody."
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