“The former Telecom Minister himself told me about the disagreements”

On the second day of his cross-examination in the Delhi special court, A. Raja's former Additional Private Secretary Aseervatham Achary said the rift between the former Telecom Minister and the former Telecom Secretary, D. S. Mathur, who preceded Siddhartha Behura, kept “growing” during November and December 2007, and that “the burning issues” related to licences and spectrum.

“Mr. Raja himself had told me about the disagreements with Mr. Mathur,” and that this was also being “freely discussed” among telecom officials, Mr. Achary said. “It is correct that during November-December 2007, I could see that the rift was growing between A. Raja and D. S. Mathur. A. Raja himself told me about this rift.”

On a poser by Ram Jethmalani, counsel for Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi, why Mr. Raja would share such confidences with him [Achary], and whether it was Mr. Mathur who told him about the disagreements, Mr. Achary responded: “I have been associated with A. Raja for almost 10 years…I am a small fry to ask D.S. Mathur about such matters, though I could take the liberty with the Minister to ask such questions because of my long association with him, that is, close to one quarter of my life.”

Mr. Achary added: “I did not find it appropriate for me, being an officer of the rank of Section Officer, to go to the Secretary of the Government of India and ask him about his rift with the Minister.”

The cross-examination began with Mr. Jethmalani quizzing the witness on why he met the public prosecutor after his deposition ended on Monday. Denying the veteran lawyer's suggestion that he spent over an hour at the PP's office, Mr. Achary said he only asked the time he should report in court on Tuesday and had spent just five minutes there.

Query on phone

The line of questioning then progressed to the mobile phone in Mr. Achary's possession, where he purchased it from, and whether its cost was a few lakh rupees. The witness replied that the phone was a gift to his wife from her brother-in-law based in London and that he was not aware if the handset cost between Rs. 2 lakh and Rs. 4.5 lakh.

Meanwhile, Unitech Wireless promoter Sanjay Chandra's plea to travel abroad from December 24 to 29 to attend to his son's medical treatment during the court holidays was rejected. The CBI had opposed his application and submitted that separate probes by two agencies, the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate, into the money trail in the 2G case was still progressing.

Special Judge O.P. Saini also overruled objections raised by defence counsel to the presence of investigating officers (IO) in the courtroom during Mr. Achary's cross-examination.

“I do not find anything wrong with the presence of IO or associate IO in the courtroom,” Mr. Saini observed.

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