What is India's telecom scam?

The scandal led to the resignation of the then-telecom minister, A. Raja, who was accused of favoring certain companies.

Ayushi Singh
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India's telecom scandal, also known as the 2G spectrum scam, was a major corruption scandal that took place in India in 2008. It involved the illegal allocation of 2G (second-generation) spectrum licenses to telecom companies by the Indian government. The allocation of spectrum licenses was done at rates that were much lower than their market value, resulting in a loss of billions of dollars in revenue for the government.


In the same way that sunlight, water, Oil, coal, natural gas, metals, stone and sand are all natural resources, so is spectrum. The government of India has two options for selling spectrum to telecom operators, either through an auction or a fixed price.

A.Raja, minister of communication and information technology in Congress (2007-2009), in 2008 made a conditional allocation of 122 licences of 2G spectrum through fixed price option that favored the involved telecom companies. He offered a very cheap price and no restrictions when selling the license. The government of India suffered a loss of 1.76 lakh crore as a result.

Accusations made against former telecom minister A Raja

  • Entrance fees for 2G spectrum licenses in 2008 were set at rates from 2001, even though the number of mobile subscribers has increased from 4 million to nearly 350 million by that time.
  • No protocols were followed.
  • A.Raja modified the rules prior to the launch of the 2G spectrum .
  • The application deadline is shortened by 25 days.
  • Licenses were sold through fixed rate format and there was no legitimate auction procedure used.
  • Raja disregarded the recommendations of the Finance, Legal, and TRAI (Telecom regulatory authority of India) ministries.
  • The auctioning of the spectrum at market prices had been advised by TRAI.

The scandal was uncovered by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, who estimated that the loss to the government was around Rs. 1.76 lakh crore (approximately $26 billion USD). The CAG report found irregularities in the allocation process, including the fact that some of the companies that were awarded the licenses did not meet the eligibility criteria.

In total, 12 people and organisations were charged by the CBI in the 2G scam including A Raja's secretary RK Chandolia, and the former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura.


The Charged

  • Former telecom minister A Raja
  • Raja's personal secretary RK Chandolia
  • Former telecom secretary Siddharth Behrua
  • Unitech MD, Sanjay Chandra
  • Group MD of Reliance Telecom, Gautam Doshi
  • Swan promoter Shahid Usman Balwa
  • Director of Mumbai-based DB Realty, Vinod Goenka
  • Reliance ADAG senior vice-president, Hari Nair
  • Group President, Reliance ADAG, Surendra Pipara
  • Unitech Wireless
  • Swan Telecom
  • Reliance Telecom

The scandal led to the resignation of the then-telecom minister, A. Raja, who was accused of favoring certain companies and causing the loss to the government. The case went to trial, and in 2017, a special court acquitted all the accused due to lack of evidence.

The 2G spectrum scam was one of the biggest corruption scandals in India's history, and it had a significant impact on the country's telecom industry and its reputation. The case also highlighted the need for transparency and accountability in government decision-making processes.