Balwa’s lawyer challenges arrest saying the company is being made a scapegoat
Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was today allowed two days transit remand of Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa by a Mumbai court to take him to Delhi and interrogate him together with former telecom minister A Raja, who is in the custody of the investigative agency with regard to the telecoms scandal.
Mr Balwa, who was arrested last evening from his Bandra residence in suburban Mumbai, was produced before Special CBI Judge SC Chandak, who allowed the agency two days of transit remand, to produce him before a court in Delhi, reports PTI.
Mr Balwa's lawyer challenged the arrest in court, saying that his company was being singled out and was being made a "scapegoat" despite some other firms also being involved in the case.
The counsel for the CBI countered the argument saying that Mr Balwa sold the licence to Etisalat, a UAE-based company, allegedly for Rs4,200 crore, while he had bought it for just Rs1,537 crore.
After the hearing the two sides, the judge said that since the CBI has Mr Raja in its custody, it may need to confront the former minister and Mr Balwa as the accused may have divulged something during his interrogation. Mr Balwa's arrest comes just two days before the Supreme Court hears the continuing 2G spectrum case.
Sources said that the CBI had some evidence through the income-tax department that Mr Balwa, a close aide of Mr Raja, was instrumental in channelling alleged kickbacks received for the sale of 2G spectrum by the former telecom minister.
According to the sources, Mr Balwa allegedly helped the minister and some of his close confidantes to park the money in the real estate sector.
At a news conference last evening, K Radhakrishnan says neither was the department of space nor the Union Cabinet informed about the details of the contract
New Delhi: As political pressure mounts on prime minister Manmohan Singh with allegations of yet another spectrum scam, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that the process to terminate a suspect deal is underway.
The space agency had suggested that there was no financial loss to the government on account of the 2005 contract between its commercial arm, Antrix, and a private firm Devas Multimedia, set up by a former ISRO official for the use of scarce satellite-based communication spectrum, or S-band spectrum.
But at a news conference late last evening, ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan admitted that details about the contract that gave Devas the rights to 90% usage of transponders on two satellites, were not shared with the Organisation or the Union Cabinet, reports PTI.
"One point that was not explicitly mentioned (to the Union Cabinet) was that GSAT 6 and GSAT 6A satellites are going to be predominantly used for this novel and commercial application that Antrix had entered into with M/s Devas," Mr Radhakrishnan said.
Newspapers reported yesterday that ISRO is being investigated by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for leasing of transponders on ISRO satellites to Devas Multimedia. The leases granted it access to telecom spectrum without a bidding process, the media reports said.
S-band spectrum can provide broadband internet services in a rapidly-expanding Indian mobile phone market. On the basis of other market deals, a total of $44 billion would have been disbursed had all spectrum allocated to Devas been sold at those prices, according to the media reports.
The ISRO conference came after a statement from the prime minister's office (PMO) denying media reports that Devas was allotted 70 MHz of spectrum for Rs 1,000 crore. The statement said that no decision had been taken and therefore charges of revenue loss of a whopping Rs2 lakh crore were without basis.
But the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remained unconvinced and described the clarification from the PMO as meaningless. The principal opposition party said there were important questions that the prime minister must explain to the nation.
"It is self evident that Manmohan Singh is leading a regime that is the most corrupt after independence...yet it is claimed that he is Mr Clean," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Subsequently, the ISRO chief clarified that neither spectrum nor transponders or satellites were given to Devas or Antrix so far. "The question of revenue loss incurred does not arise," said Mr Radhakrishnan, who was accompanied by former ISRO chief and member of the Planning Commission K Kasturirangan.
He said the process of review of the contract was initiated on 8 December 2009 and soon "we are expecting to complete it".
"In December 2009, I instituted a committee with a former member of the Space Commission for a comprehensive review of all matters," Mr Radhakrishnan said, after describing the genesis of the review process.
Total sales of vehicles across categories registered a growth of 18.69% to 13,22,979 units in January as against 11,14,692 units in the same month last year, according to SIAM data
New Delhi: Domestic passenger car sales jumped by 26.28% to 1,84,332 units in January, 2011, from 1,45,971 units in the same month last year, reports PTI.
According to figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) today, motorcycle sales in the country grew by 14.94% during the month to 7,47,818 units from 6,50,633 units in the same month last year.
Total two-wheeler sales in January increased by 17.55% to 9,80,752 units from 8,34,343 units in January, 2010.
Sales of commercial vehicles jumped by 12.58% to 60,753 units from 53,963 units in the year-ago period, SIAM said.
Total sales of vehicles across categories registered a growth of 18.69% to 13,22,979 units in January as against 11,14,692 units in the same month last year, it added.