2G scam verdict: All 18 accused including A Raja acquitted, Congress seeks ex-CAG Vinod Rai's apology

 BusinessToday.in        Last Updated: December 21, 2017  | 17:41 IST
2G scam verdict: All 18 accused including A Raja acquitted, Congress seeks ex-CAG Vinod Rai's apology

A special CBI court on Thursday acquitted all 18 accused including A Raja and K Kanimozhi in 2G spectrum allocation case. The scam came to light almost seven years ago when the Comptroller and Auditor General or CAG in a report held then Telecom Minister A Raja responsible for causing the state exchequer a loss of Rs 1,76,379 crore by allocating 2G spectrum licenses at throwaway prices. But, today the court found that the prosecution failed to prove the charges. This verdict, however, doesn't override the Supreme Court judgement or take away from the fact that the licenses issued during 2G spectrum allocation were illegal. 

The charge sheet of the instant case is based mainly on misreading, selective reading, non reading and out of context reading of the official record, Special Judge OP Saini said in his verdict. The charge sheet is based on some oral statements made by the witnesses during investigation, which the witnesses have not owned up in the witness box, Special Judge added.

Here's what Subramanian Swamy has to say:

This is very bad judgement. On appeal, this verdict will be set aside:  Subramanian Swamy

On Kapil Sibal's zero loss theory, Subramanian said: "This isn't final verdict. Congress happiness is short-lived."

Special Judge OP Saini in his report said he could not understand what CBI wanted to prove: Subramanian Swamy

Former Attorney General is supporting the judgement. It wasn't appropriate to appoint Mukul Rohatgi as AG: Subramanian Swamy

Here's what Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said:

Today, there has been against the accused in the 2G spectrum case a judgement of acquittal. The Congress leaders are treating this as some kind of a badge of honour and a certification that 2G policy was an honest policy. In 2007-2008, spectrum was given by an auction, but on basis of a price discovery made in 2001. So, the spectrum in 2008 was allocated on 2001 prices, said Arun Jaitley.

Even within the policy implementation, there was arbitrariness, cut off date was advanced. First Come First Serve policy was intended to help selected few and the favourite chosen few were informed in advance about the change of policy. The favourites had got bank draft prepared on the previous date before the spectrum allocation, said the Finance Minister

On basis of all this, in February 2012, the Supreme Court cancelled all licenses. Each case of spectrum allocation was squashed by the apex court as arbitrary and unfair. The policy was arbitrary and designed to promote corruption, said Arun Jaitley adding that we have to look at amounts collected by subsequent auctions.

The (UPA) policy was designed to promote corruption. It was implemented in an unfair manner, causing loss of revenue to the government. Auctioning was getting much higher price. I am sure investigating agencies and prosecuting agencies will look into it and decide what to do further in the matter. The Congress should not consider this as some kind of certificate of clean chit: Arun Jaitley.

What K Kanimozhi said:

We are all very happy that the justice has prevailed. It was a harrowing experience to be accused of something I have not done and being accused of corruption which I was not a part of. The whole party has suffered due to this. We feel finally a big weight has been lifted off.

The allegation was that I was Director of Kalaignar TV. I was a Director for 20 days before the launch of the channel. I wasn't present in any board meetings. CBI new all this. I had submitted my resignation in the ROC. There's more to it than meets the eye, Kanimozhi said.

What Former Telecom Minister A Raja said:

I am going to to have elaborative press conference at 5 pm at my residence today: A Raja

LIVE UPDATES

02:30 PM: Reports suggest the CBI will appeal against the acquittal of accused in 2G scam case.

12:30 AM: "Prosecution's main argument was on clause 8, it is a civil issue. It was never an issue of criminality, this is what court also held," says Mukul Rohatgi, former Attorney General: ANI

11:55 AM: Former PM Manmohan Singh said the 2G scam was a massive propaganda against the UPA without any proof.

11:45 AM: If the Government has concrete evidence, then they should take the matter to a higher court: Anna Hazare says.

11:30 AM: "Clearly the Court found that innocent people have been wronged. Justice has worked as it is supposed to work in our country," says Shashi Tharoor to ANI.

11:20 AM: Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari in a tweet asked the former CAG chief Vinod Rai to apologise to the nation. He said: "Mr VINOD RAI Former C&G must Apologise to the nation for throwing presumptive sensational Corrosive numbers into public discourse. He was author of imbecile 1.76 thousand crore loss theory that I had destroyed during my cross examination of Rai in JPC. Court has affirmed JPC Report."

11:15 AM: Like a good lawyer, I will comment only after reading the full verdict: A Raja.

11:09 AM: Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in a tweet said the government must prove its bonafides by filing an immediate appeal in the High Court.

11:05 AM: "One thing is clear that the allegations of a major scam involving highest levels of government was not true or correct," Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said after the acquittal of A Raja and Kanimozhi in the 2G spectrum scam case.

11:00 AM: Senior Congress member Kapil Sibal said that the 2G scam verdict was a moral and legal victory for the UPA government. He says that they will ask those who raised allegations to apologise and that the PM too should stop raising this matter now.

10:55 AM: An elated Kanimozhi, outside the court, said, "I would love to thank everyone who stood by me."

10:45 AM: All accused including A Raja, K Kanimozhi acquitted in 2G spectrum case. "The CBI has miserably failed to prove all charges against all the accused persons. Therefore, all accused are acquitted of all the charges. And accused are required to submit a security bond of Rs 5 lakh each which is a requirement of section 437-a of CrPC," special CBI judge said in the judgment.

9:30 AM: Former Telecom Minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi reach Patiala House court ahead of pronouncement of verdict in 2G scam cases.

In its report, which was tabled in Lok Sabha on November 16, 2010, the CAG said that A Raja ignored the advice of the Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Finance and allocated 'a scarce finite national asset at less than its true value on flexible criteria and procedures adopted to benefit a few operators'. The auditing agency further observed that politicians and government officials colluded with telecom companies to under-charge them for telecom spectrum allocated in 122 licences in 2008.
 
The act of A Raja and others not only rocked the nation but also made to the TIME magazine's 'Top 10 Abuses of Power' list.  Currently, the scam is being probed by two investigating agencies: Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate. Today's judgment will be based on 8000-page charge sheet filed by the CBI. Among the key accused in the case are:  then Telecom Minister A Raja,  Rajya Sabha MP and DMK leader M Kanimozhi and then telecom secretary Siddharth Behura. If convicted, the accused could be awarded with minimum 6 months of imprisonment to life imprisonment. Special Judge O P Saini will deliver the verdict at 10:30AM.
 
Here's how the case unfolded:  

 
The CAG audit estimated the loss was Rs 1.76 lakh crore. The CBI filed 80000 page charge sheet and said the loss was Rs 30,985 crore only.
 
The CBI charge sheet said bribes paid to favour firms in granting 2G spectrum licenses. Accused firms are Unitech Wireless, Swan Telecom, Reliance Telecom, Loop Telecom,  Loop Mobile India, Essar Tele Holding and Essar Group.
 
The CAG said licenses given to ineligible companies and those who had no experience of telecom such as Unitech and Swan Telecom.
 
In November, 2007, PM Manmohan Singh wrote to telecom minister A Raja asking for transparency in 2G allotment and to revise the licence fee. Raja did not accept the view.
 
Finance Ministry also wrote to Department of Telecom raising procedural concerns. The letter was ignored.           
 
Case based on a PIL filed by The Centre for Public Interest Litigation against the Union of India alleging irregularities in awarding 2G spectrum & licenses.
 
The Supreme Court later cancelled 122 licences calling them 'unconstitutional and arbitrary' and asked for a re-bid in February, 2012.
 
The apex court imposed a fine of Rs 5 crore each on Unitech Wireless, Swan telecom and Tata Teleservices and Rs 50 lakh fine on Loop Telecom, S Tel, Allianz Infratech and Sistema Shyam Tele Services Ltd.
 
The top court said Raja favoured "some companies at the cost of the public exchequer" and "virtually gifted away important national asset"
 
Then Union Minister Kapil Sibal rejected the CAG's findings. However, his "zero loss theory" was demolished on August 3, 2012. On the directions of the Supreme Court, the Government of India revised the base price for 5 MHz 2G spectrum auction to Rs 14,000 crore, which roughly gives the value of spectrum to be around Rs 2,800 crore per MHz which is close to the CAG's estimate of Rs 3,350 crore per MHz.
 
In April 2013, in a 112-page written statement to the joint parliamentary committee, Raja said that he met with P. Chidambaram and Prime Minister Singh several times from November 2007 to July 2008 to inform them of all 2G-related decisions and PM Manmohan Singh agreed with him.
 
After one year of trial in Nov 2013, 77 of 154 witnesses have been deposed.
 
There are 2 cases on 2G scam before CBI special court of OP Saini: One by Central Bureau of Investigation under IPC, Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act. Second by enforcement directorate, ED, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
 
The offences would mean punishment ranging from 6 months of imprisonment to life imprisonment.
 
Those who have been discharged by court so far:

  • In 2015,  the court discharged all accused in the 2002 additional telecom spectrum scam: then telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh, Bharti Cellular, Hutchison Max Telecom (Vodafone India Ltd) as well as Sterling Cellular Ltd (also bought by Vodafone).
  • In February 2017, the CBI special court also discharged former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maran from allegations that Dayanidhi forced Aircel's Sivasankaran to sell his stake to Maxis Communications owned by of Ananda Krishnan.
 

 

 

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