Monday, February 28, 2011

Budget to meet challenges of economic growth: PM

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said the Budget was aimed at consolidation of fiscal deficit and moderation of taxes and will meet challenges of the economic growth of the country.

On the controversial black money issue and lack of any amnesty scheme in the Budget to bring it back, Singh said there have been such schemes in past that have yielded little success.

"I don`t think they have succeeded in providing permanent cure for black money. We need to have a systems reform in a holistic manner to deal with this menace," he said.

Congratulating Pranab Mukherjee for doing a "commendable" job, Singh said, "You cannot please all the people. The Finance Minister has done as good a job as possible."

He was responding to a query on why there was no increase in the income tax exemption limit for women.

"This is the Budget which meets all the challenges of our economy and polity face in the next fiscal year... This is a Budget that matches the challenges that our economy faces ---sustained growth, inclusive growth, equitable growth and thus, a determined effort to curb inflationary expectations," Singh said in an interview.

Singh also noted that "quite a lot" has been to encourage foreign direct investment. The Prime Minister said that there was a need to maintain a high growth rate for which adequate provisions have been made in the areas of infrastructure, social and agricultural sectors.

"It is certainly necessary to curb inflationary expectations for which it is very essential that there should be a path of fiscal consolidation and the Finance Minister has done a commendable job by planning to reduce fiscal deficit and revenue deficit," Singh said.

What Mukherjee has done by way of social sector spending, encouraging investment in agriculture, tax concessions, "I think this budget matches the challenges that our economy faces", he said.

Singh said that Mukherjee has "walked on both legs" by keeping the taxes moderate through a simplified system.

The Prime Minister said the Finance Minister by raising the exemption of tax limit to the lowest rung of the ladder benefited all tax payers.

Noting that the budget signals a "reforms-oriented" government as Mukherjee has promised to come out with legislations regarding insurance and pension fund, Singh said, "If these promises are converted into solid acts of Parliament, this will provide a boost to capital market as well as the corporate sentiments".

Singh said the Direct Tax Code would become a reality by April 01 next year. As far as the other promises were concerned, much depends upon "what we can push through Parliament", he said.

"There is no lack of effort on part of the government. Although there are some difficulties with regard to GST as some states are not on board. I am confident we will persevere and we will succeed," Singh said.

He said that the moderation on taxes on balance was a good thing to play with and "if you are moving towards a GST, I think it is also necessary to have that end product in mind. The Finance Minister has thought it through."

The peak rates of both Customs and Exercise duties have been kept at 10 percent, he said, adding, "We cannot be too certain that everything would work their arithmetic the way we want to work. We must have ample scope to contribute to fiscal consolidation".

On social sector spending, he said these programmes required a boost in terms of delivery services and the problem has to be faced head-on.

Asked whether it was an "easy" budget, Singh said that considering the international climate and what was happening in the international financial system, maintaining a high growth was "something for which the Finance Minister and the government deserve congratulations". 

Key documents on 2G scam "untraceable" in DoT: CBI to court


New Delhi: Some crucial documents of a telecom firm given to Department of Telecom for allocation of 2G spectrum to it and forming key evidence in the scam has gone missing from the Department, CBI told a court here on Monday. 

"The documents submitted by one telecom company to DoT for allocation of spectrum, on the basis of which their (telecom firm's) priority was to be determined, are reported to be untraceable and could not yet be traced or recovered," CBI told Special CBI Judge O P Saini.
CBI made the submission in its reply opposing the bail plea of former Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura who was arrested with ex-Telecom Minister A Raja on February 2 for his alleged role in the 2G spectrum allocation scam. 

CBI opposed the bail plea also saying "some more documents are yet to be recovered" be them. 

Detailing the alleged role of Behura in the 2G scam, CBI said Raja and Behura had abused their official position as "public servants" and approved the file relating to verification of eligibility conditions of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd. 

"Raja and Behura, by abusing their official positions as public servants and thereby ignoring the serious issues raised by the concerned section for further verification of eligibility conditions of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, have dishonestly approved the file on January 9, 2008 for issue of Letters of Intent (LoI) for 13 telecom service areas," CBI said. 

CBI said Behura, in conspiracy with Raja's former personal secretary R K Chandolia and others, had made arrangements for distribution of LoIs and responses of DoT in an arbitrary and unfair manner. 

It said Behura and others have done this in an unfair manner as the same were "neither distributed simultaneously nor on first-come-first-serve basis, but instead were distributed in a manner designed to benefit Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd and other companies." 

CBI opposed the bail plea of Behura, also saying he is "an influential person" and there is every likelihood of tampering of evidence and threatening of witnesses by him.

The court fixed March 9 to hear arguments on Behura's bail plea. 

CBI, meanwhile, sought some time from the court for filing its reply on Behura's plea that his bank accounts, sealed by CBI, be de-freezed as he needs money for treatment of his wife who had recently undergone operation for cancer. 

The court listed the matter for CBI's reply on March 15. Behura is now in judicial custody till March 3.

Union Budget: Q&A with Pranab

New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Monday, expressed confidence that the policy direction prescribed in Union Budget 2011-12 will positively affect the life of the aam admi by addressing the problem of high inflation and pushing economic reforms.

In his interactions with the pr
ess after presenting the Budget in the Lok Sabha earlier today, Mukherjee pointed out that he had to formulate the budgetary proposals amid a lot of uncertainty across the world. “I could have done better; even then the best can be improved. I have given clear direction towards tax inflows, fiscal consolidation, and that reform always does not mean that you should attract headlines. Real reform is the change in the policy, and in its implantation which will positively affect the life of the aam admi,” he said. 


Through the Budget proposals, Mukherjee stressed that he has tried to signal reforms without making any dramatic announcements. 

Inflation 

Referring to rising inflation, the minister said, he tried to address the problem by allocating resources and come out with schemes to augment supplies of pulses and edible oil. 

"We have taken special programmes - about six-seven programmes - to be implemented under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna. I have allocated resources and schemes are being worked out for pulses, edible oil, providing fodder for the cattle, green revolution in Eastern India." 

To check high prices, he said, "we have to remove the supply bottlenecks and therefore the agriculture response should be to improve the supply bottlenecks". 

Subsidies 

The Finance Minister elaborated on the new policy on subsidy where direct cash subsidy would be given to beneficiaries of kerosene, LPG and fertiliser subsidy. 

“Everybody agrees that Kerosene is highly misused and not reaches the consumers for whom it is meant. For kerosene, fertiliser and LPG, I will go directly to the consumer. I am hopeful that by March 2012 we will be able to implement it across the country,” he said. 

On whether the government will lower the subsidy on diesel, the Finance Minister while accepting that subsidies have to be reduced, did not indicate a specific time towards achieving that target. 

He said, “We have decided that it will be done at appropriate time as on oil it would be too premature to make a decision as the situation is too volatile. For example in August 2008 crude oil prices was at USD 147 per barrel but in January 2009 it came under USD 50.” 

Fiscal deficit 

Regarding the big disparity between the nominal GDP growth (up by 40%) and borrowing (up by 4 times), the FM said that in absolute terms the level of borrowing would be same in the next year as it is in the current year. 

He highlighted his continued focus on controlling fiscal deficit by pointing that in the current fiscal he used non tax big receipts to reduce deficit. “I did not to use non tax extra money to reduce fiscal deficit and not use it for populist schemes...fiscal signal quite clear,” he said. 

The Budget, Mukherjee said, also sought to move ahead on the path of fiscal prudence by controlling expenditure and reducing fiscal deficit. The minister proposed to reduce fiscal deficit to 4.6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product in 2011-12 from 5.1 percent estimated for the current fiscal. 

"I have conveyed the message in this Budget that we shall have to resort to fiscal prudence and fiscal consolidation should take place," he said. 

Old hat political activist 

Terming himself a ‘old hat as a political activist’, Mukherjee expressed his optimism is overcoming the political opposition to certain policy issues like Goods and Services Tax and Direct Tax Code. 

“It may possible to implement DTC from April 2011, but it requires political consensus. So therefore there is challenge to bring consensus amongst political parties. I will use this year to narrow the divergent views on the issue,” he said. 

“It is not just for casual mention. We shall have to go to GST and we shall have to address the concerns of the states. I am not insensitive to the concerns of the states," he added. 

However, he accepted that a timeline for GST implementation is difficult at this stage, while assuring states that there will be no loss in revenue to them due to its implementation. 

Nobody can stop India 

On a report by Citibank that predicted that India could become largest economy by 2050, Pranab expressed optimism that it would be reality. 

“We can take on, we can move forward, let us keep our divergent views, but when the broad national interest come, let us march ahead and in more than once instance earlier, we have done it…nobody can stop India from moving ahead,” he said, adding that he would like to die with that ambition.

BUDGET - FULL TEXT

Saturday, February 26, 2011

DMK signs seat sharing agreement with IUML, allots 3 seats


Chennai, Feb 26 : The ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu today signed seat sharing agreement with the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), allotting three seats to it for the coming Assembly elections.

After a round of talks with the DMK poll panel, headed by Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin, early this week, IUML state President K M Khader Mohideen signed an agreement with DMK President and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.

As per the understanding, the IUML would contest the three seats on DMK's ''Rising Sun'' symbol, a release from DMK headquarters here said.

Expressing satisfaction with the allotment of three seats, Mr Mohideen said he was happy over the deal and the party would fight for the victory of DMK-led alliance in all the 234 seats.

''The IUML will fight for the victory of the DMK and the continuance of Kalaignar's welfare schemes,'' he said.

DMK poll panel members, M K Stalin, Arcot N Veerasamy, Duraimurugan, K Ponmudi and former Minister T R Baalu were present when the agreement was signed.

The DMK had already struck a deal with the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), allotting 31 seats.

The party had held two rounds of talks with its principal ally, the Congress, and one round of talks with Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and was yet to finalise deals. The DMK is also holding talks with other minor allies.

DMDK launches poll parleys with AIADMK


Chennai: Actor-politician Vijayakant's DMDK on Thursday launched formal poll parleys with the Opposition AIADMK to "oust DMK from power".

Though backdoor negotiations were going on for some time, this is the first time that leaders of both parties met to initiate poll talks.
A team of senior DMDK leaders, including 'Panrutty' S Ramanchandran and Sutheesh met AIADMK's poll panel, comprising party MLAs, O Panneerselvam, S Jayaraman and K A Sengottiyan.

After the talks, DMDK presidium chairman Ramachandran told reporters that his party was committed to ousting DMK from power, the reason why the party had initiated poll talks with AIADMK for a possible alliance.

However, no decision had been arrived at yet on seat-sharing, he added.

Though Vijayakant has been consistently holding that his alliance was only with the people and no other political party, the DMDK, however, opted for tie up under pressure from party cadres.

Founded in 2005 by Vijayakant, DMDK made its debut in the next year's Assembly elections, with Vijayakant himself winning from the Viruddhachalam seat even as his party polled eight per cent popular votes.

However, the party's performance in the subsequent by-polls and 2009 Lok Sabha polls were below par even as it played spoilsport to AIADMK's prospects by splitting the votes.

Speculations of a possible tie-up between the two parties was going around for sometime before the two chose to make it offcial today.

Meanwhile, an AIADMK release said talks were held between the two parties "in order to ensure the DMDK's participation in the AIADMK-led alliance."

DMK-Congress failed to reach agreement


Chennai, Feb 25 : The ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu held second round of talks with the Congress here tonight, but failed to reach an agreement on sharing of seats for the coming assembly elections.

The DMK panel, led by Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin held talks with the five-member Congress panel, led by TNCC President K V Thankgabalu at DMK headquarters for more than an hour, but could not arrive at a conclusion on some aspects.

The talks began at 2030 hrs and went on till 2145 hrs but the deadlock continued as the Congress believed to be insisting on working out a common minimum programme and share in power, in the event of DMK led alliance winning the assembly elections.

An hour after the two panels resumed talks, DMK President and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi arrived at the party office, giving an indication that the two parties have reached an understanding and all set to strike the deal, but the leaders of the two parties dispersed to meet again and resume one more round of talks.

Emerging out from the meeting, Mr Thankgabalu told waiting newspersons that the two sides reiterated their respective stands and agreed to come back to the negotiation table after consulting their respective party highcommands.

Mr Karunanidhi, in a brief chat with newspersons, paried question when asked whether there was a deadlock in the talks.

''We have not said like this,'' he said when asked about reports that the two parties would reach an agreement after second round of talks.

Friday, February 25, 2011

AIADMK leader cuts 630-ft-long cake on Jayalalithaa's birthday


Vellore, Feb 24 : A local AIADMK leader created a record of sorts, when he cut a 630-ft-long cake on the occasion of the 63rd birthday of party Supremo J Jayalalithaa here this evening.

The huge cake was a cynosure of all eyes, when Mr G G Ravi, who heads the AIADMK councillors in the Vellore Corporation, ''assembled'' it at the Vellore Fort ground this evening.

Thousands of AIADMK cadres, who assembled at the ground shouted ''Long live Amma'', when Mr Ravi cut the cake.

Mr Ravi, who was a close associate of late Congress leader G K Moopanar, quit the Congress after he was denied ticket by the party during the 2006 Assembly elections.

After a brief stint in the Bahujan Samaj Party, he joined the AIADMK and now emerged as a close contender for local Congress MLA C Gnanasekaran in the coming assembly elections.

Ravi made the giant cake at a cost of 1.75 lakh. The cake was made in ten-ft-long pieces at a bakery in Bangalore and assembled at the Fort ground this evening.

The cake was made using 600 kg of sugar, 600 kg of maida, 8,000 eggs and 400 kg of cake essence and 800 kg of Dalda.

''Biscuit'' Babu, an ardent fan of Ms Jayalalithaa, headed a 30-member team and took seven days to make the cake.

DMDK begins talks for electoral alliance with AIADMK


Chennai, Feb 24 : Actor-politician Vijayakanth's Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) set the ball rolling to forge an electoral alliance with the Opposition AIADMK led by J Jayalalithaa for the ensuing Tamil Nadu Assemblypolls, by holding first round of talks with it here this evening.

Setting at rest speculation that the Congress was holding talks with the the DMDK also in a bid to rope it into the DMK-Congress combine or persuading it to go it alone, a DMDK delegation led byparty Presidium Chairman Panruti S Ramachandran held talks with AIADMK poll panel led by former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam.

''It will be a people's alliance,'' Mr Ramachandran, himself a former senior AIADMK leader during the MGR era, said, emerging out of the nearly hour-long meeting at the AIADMK headquarters.

This was the first meeting between the two parties after both held behind the scene parleys on entering into an electoral- pact with the common agenda of defeating the DMK-led front in the ensuing polls.

''We held first round of talks. The discussions were cordial and satisfactory,'' Mr Ramachandran said, adding, the DMDK neither demanded a share in power in the event of AIADMK-led front, which also included the MDMK and the Left Parties winning the polls, nor allocation of more seats to it.

Tamil Nadu gets new trains, integrated suburban network


Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee
Chennai: Introduction of new trains, beefing up of the suburban train services and setting up of integrated suburban train network are among the major announcements relating to Tamil Nadu in the new railway budget.

The budget for 2011-12 presented by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday has also approved new railway lines for the state.


She assured the house that the capacity expansion at Chennai's Integral Coach Factory (ICF), which was announced in the last budget, would go on steam shortly.


As regards the new trains, Banerjee has sanctioned two air-conditioned Duronto trains (Madurai - Chennai and Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram, both bi-weekly.


Banerjee also proposed weekly express trains between Kharagpur-Villupuram via Vellore, Purulia-Viluppuram Express via Midnapore, Kharagpur-Vellore-Chennai Shirdi Express via Bangalore, and Mysore-Chennai Express.


A daily express between Coimbatore and Tuticorin and a daily passenger train between Coimbatore and Mettupalayam will also be introduced.


Tamil Nadu also figured in the introduction of the new train Vivek Express, marking the 150th birth anniversary of Swamy Vivekananda to be celebrated in 2013.


The Dibrugarh-Thiruvananthapuram-Kanyakumari Express (weekly) via Kokrajhar, and Dwarka-Tuticorin Express (weekly) via Wadi also form part of the Tamil Nadu package.


Banerjee announced special tourist train - Janma Bhoomi Gaurav - on the route Chennai-Puducheri-Tiruchirappali-Madurai-Kanyakumari-Thiruvananthpuram-Ernakulam-Chennai.


The train connects important historical and educational places in the state.


Apart from announcing that an integrated suburban train network would be set up in Chennai, Banerjee declared nine more additional services in the suburban services.


These will be run on Chennai Beach-Gummidipundi, Gummidipundi-Chennai Central, Avadi-Chennai Beach, Chennai Central-Tiruvallur, Tiruvallur-Chennai Central. The Chennai Beach-Tambaram service is proposed to be extended to Chengalpattu.


According to Banerjee, new lines will be laid on Sriperumbudur-Gummudipoondi and Mannagudi-Puddukottai routes.

Vaiko slams Congress for links with DMK


vaiko
vaiko
Chennai: V Gopalswamy (Vaiko), leader of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), has slammed the Congress for continuing to maintain its links with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party despite several charges of corruption against it.

He asked: "If the Congress party, run by Sonia Gandhi, is really serious about the spectrum scam, why do they want to join hands with the DMK for the ensuing assembly elections in Tamil Nadu?"
" There must be two reasons, either they have got a lion's share from the scam or, it is a reward for Karunanidhi for enabling the Indian government to assist the Sri Lankan government to commit the unforgivable genocide of Tamils in the island," he added.

Vaiko was speaking after a meeting with J Jayalalithaa, chief of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in Chennai on Wednesday.

The DMK is currently under the scanner for the involvement of its party member and former Telecom Minister A Raja in the 2G-telecom spectrum allotments scam.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Have not received any summons from CBI, says Kanimozhi


Maya Ravan DVD
Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi on Friday said she has not received any summons from the CBI, which is probing the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

"I haven't got anything of that kind," the DMK Rajya Sabha MP told a TV channel here when asked about reports that CBI may question her as part of its ongoing probe into the scam in which former Union Telecom Minister A Raja has been arrested.

Asked about CBI searches at the office of DMK-backed Kalaignar TV, she said she was not aware of it. 

She refused to comment when asked if the latest development would affect DMK-Congress seat-sharing talks.

The CBI had earlier in the day carried out searches in the offices and residences of the top management of Kalaignar TV.

Sun TV denies rumours of top level changes


Chennai, Feb 18 : Even as the media world is agog with rumours of top level changes at Sun TV Network Ltd with its Chief Executive Officer Ajay Vidyasagar putting in his papers, a company official denied any such development.

"Vidyasagar is on leave and the company has not received any resignation letter from him. He is expected to join back soon," the official told IANS.

He said the company is aware of the rumours doing the rounds and has nothing to comment.

"Any such development will be promptly notified to the stock exchanges where the company's scrip is listed," he added.

DMK allots 31 seats to PMK plus an Rajya Sabha seat for assembly polls


Chennai, Feb 10 : A day after the meeting of Anbumani Ramadoss, the former Union Health Minister and son of PMK founder-president S Ramadoss, with AICC President Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi put the PMK back in DMK-Congress led alliance, DMK supremo M Karunanidhi today allotted 31 seats to it for the forthcoming elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly.

The allocation of seats to the PMK, besides a Rajya Sabha seat, came swiftly at a meeting between Dr Ramadoss and Mr Karunanidhi at the latter's Gopalapuram residence this morning, as part of the agreement.

The discussions lasted more than an hour.

Talking to newspersons, Dr Ramadoss said, ''We are satisfied with the allotment of seats though the number is the same that the DMK had given us in the 2006 Assembly elections.'' Dr Ramadoss also predicted that the DMK-Congress-PMK-VCK combine would ''definitely emerge victorious'' in the Assembly elections.

2G: CBI raids Kalaignar TV office


Chennai/News Delhi, Feb 18 : The Central Bureau ofInvestigation (CBI) on Friday morning raided the office of Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) owned news channel Kalaignar TV in connection with the 2G scam probe, reports said.

The CBI team had also raided the house of the Sharad Kumar, MD of the channel, reports said.

Media reports said that Karunanidi’s daughter Kanimozhi will also be questioned by CBI in this connection.

The CBI smells that a handsome amount of the money related to the scam may have been given to the channel, reports said.

The channel under the radar of CBI is owned by Tamil Nadu’s Chif Minister M. Karunanidhi’s second wife MK Dayaluammal (60 per cent stake) and his daughter Kanimozhi.

Meanwhile, reports said the CBI also raided the house of five Commonwealth Games Organising Committee officials in connection to the Commonwealth Games Scam.
AK Saxena, Nikesh Jain, RP Gupta, KUK Reddy and Sujith Lal, were the officials who were raided by CBI on Friday in connection to the CWG overlays scam.

Jayalalithaa alleges Kanimozhi arrest was drama


Chennai, Feb 17 : Opposition AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalithaa said the arrest of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi for trying to picket the Sri Lankan High Commission in the city yesterday was a ''drama to fulfill her horoscope'' to ward off arrest inconnection with the 2G spectrum scam.

In a statement here, Ms Jayalalithaa said Ms Kanimozhi suddenly got charged up over the fishermen issue and courted arrest as per the advise of family astrologer to avoid arrest in connection with the spectrum scam.

As per the plan to beat the ''destiny charted out by the planets'', she got arrested to fulfill the prophesy in her horoscope, so that she could ward off the prospect of an arrest by the CBI in a criminal offence, the AIADMK leader alleged.

''The drama, in addition to fulfilling the requirements of the horoscope, would serve the dual purpose of indicating to the fishermen of Tamil Nadu that she and the DMK were concerned about them'', she said.

However, the ''dummy arrest will not be a substituted for the real, she alleged.

The long arm of law will definitely come home. And when it does, all the spectrum money will only be a heavy burden, too huge to shrug away'', Ms Jayalalithaa alleged.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

2G scam: Raja says he will prove his innocence


New Delhi: Former Telecom Minister A Raja, who has been arrested by CBI for his alleged role in the in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, on Thursday said he will prove his innocence.

"I will face the case and prove my innocence," he told reporters outside Special Judge O P Saini's courtroon, shortly after he was ordered to be sent to Tihar Jail under judicial custody.

Raja, who was arrested on Feb 2 and had been in CBI custody, was on Thursday sent to 14 days' judical custody.

S-band allocation was a mistake; it is asset of forces: Antony


ak_antonyNew Delhi: As the government scrapped the S-Band spectrum allocation deal, Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday said a "mistake" had been committed in reaching it as the Defence Ministry had not been consulted about the agreement which involved crucial asset of the security forces.
He expressed confidence that in future the first priority would be given to security forces in allocation of such spectrum.

"They have done some mistake.... S-Band is mainly for the strategic forces and in which our services- army, navy, air froze- they have got major stake," he told reporters.

Noting that S-Band spectrum was "very precious asset for us", the Defence Minister said its "availability is limited" and has to be given to the armed forces, paramilitary and other strategic forces.

"It is unfortunate that earlier we were not consulted at that time by those who took the decision," he said adding that "In the future the first priority would be for the strategic forces and strategic organizations."

Antony said the Ministry of Defence and Services have got a major stake and "I hope their concerns would be properly addressed. I am confident about that."

His remarks came hours after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) annulled the controversial deal saying it was not in the strategic interest of the country.

Commenting on Antony's remarks, Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said the "issues" raised by his cabinet colleague "can be a subject matter" before the B K Chaturvedi Committee set by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently to look into various aspects of the S-Band allocation.

Raja sent to Tihar Jail under judicial custody till March 3


Former telecommunications minister Andimuthu Raja (C) comes out of the airport in New Delhi December 22, 2010. REUTERS/Adnan AbidiNew Delhi: After facing sustained custodial interrogation for 14 days at the CBI headquarters over his role in 2G spectrum allocation scam, former Telecom Minister A Raja was on Thursday sent to Tihar Jail under judicial custody by a Delhi court.
"The accused is remanded in judicial custody till March 3," Special CBI judge O P Saini said, remanding Raja into 14-days' judicial custody on CBI plea.

The CBI sought judicial custody for the former minister saying the investigation in the case was not yet complete.

While remanding Raja into judicial custody, the court also directed the Tihar Jail authorities to allow the former minister to have access to home-made food in jail besides his medicines and reading glasses.

The court gave this direction to the jail superintendent on a plea made by Raja's counsel Ramesh Gupta.
In an application to the court, Gupta sought the court's direction to the prison authorities to allow his client to have home-cooked food, medicines and use his reading glasses.

"The accused has a history of acid reflux disorder, irritable syndrome, claustrophobia and other related medical disorders since 2002 for which he has been under medication.

"Owing to the said medical condition of the applicant, he has been advised to take only home-cooked food along with the medicines prescribed for the medical condition," the application filed by Raja said.
The court accepted DMK leader's plea, saying "the jail superintendent is directed to consider the application as per the jail manual."

Raja was arrested on February 2, along with former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura and his former personal secretary R K Chandolia, for their alleged role in 2G spectrum allocation scam, which, as per CBI, has caused a pecuniary loss of Rs 22,000 crore to the state exchequer.

The former minister is alleged to have manipulated rules to favour some telecom companies, including Swan Telecom and Unitech Private Limited, in allocation of the spectrum at throwaway prices.