In a move that sends the shockwaves in the country, a special CBI court on Thursday acquitted all accused, including telecom minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi in the Rs 3,000 crore 2G spectrum allocation scam cases.
While pronouncing the judgment, O P Saini, a special CBI judge cleared all the 19 accused of all charges in the Enforcement Directorate’s money laundering case which comes under the gamut of the 2G scam case.
Vijay Aggarwal defence counsel said, “The Court said that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove any of its charges. Thus all accused are acquitted.”
Former CBI Director A P Singh expressed his bewilderment on the acquittal of all accused in the 2G Scam case.
“I don’t know what happened in the trial but there were clear irregularities in the allotment of 2G spectrum which we (CBI) pointed out with detailed evidence,” A P Singh told The Times of India.
A P Singh led the arrest of A Raja and Corporate.
All key accused were present for the verdict at the Patiala House courtroom, which has been the scene of high octane drama and stunning revelations since November 2011, when the trial in the main 2G suit began.
Acquitting all the accused related to the case, the court directed a bail bond of Rs 5 lakh each to ensure their presence in a higher appellate court should the verdict be challenged in the future.
Others acquitted in the case are former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja ‘s erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra and three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG) — Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair. Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV director Sharad Kumar and Bollywood producer Karim Morani are also exonerated in the case.
Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV director Sharad Kumar and Bollywood producer Karim Morani are also exonerated in the case.
Besides them, three telecom firms — Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd (STPL), Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd — were also accused and now stand vindicated.
There were three cases before special judge Saini — two that were registered by the CBI and one by the ED. CBI’s first case is the main 2G suit where Raja figures prominently, along with party MP Kanimozhi
Arguing his case, and even getting into the ‘box’ to be cross-examined continuously for nearly a fortnight, Raja had specific issues to counter — one, he advanced the cut-off date for receiving applications from October 10, 2007 to October 1, 2007, thereby eliminating 408 out of the 575 applicants from the race.
Two, violation of the first-come-first-served policy; three, eligibility of various companies that did not have any prior experience, and four, non-revision of the entry fee for new operators.
Raja stunned the court on more than one occasion by repeating that everyone who mattered, including the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was aware of the key decisions and that it was Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) that had eliminated the ‘experience’ clause besides making it clear that any firm that could deposit Rs 1,650 crore would be eligible to bid for spectrum.
“Why would the minister involve outsiders such as the prime minister, the law minister, finance minister, external affairs minister and the solicitor-general of India in the decision-making process if there were a conspiracy?” Raja had contended during court proceedings.
An unfazed CBI, however, said he was a consummate liar and the main conspirator who had colluded with inexperienced companies to grant them out-of-turn 2G spectrum licences against kickbacks.
The second CBI case involves promoters of Essar Group, Loop Telecom and Saraf.
While the court had charged them with the offence under section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) read with section 420 (cheating) of IPC, substantial charge of cheating was made out against Saraf for allegedly using a “front” to cheat the Department of Telecommunication and secure 2G licences in 2008.