In a ruling that came as a major relief for the UPA government, the Supreme Court Friday held that there was no material to show, even prima facie, that Finance Minister P Chidambaram had abused his position or colluded with the then telecom minister A Raja in the 2G spectrum allotment scam.
A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan cleared Chidambaram of all allegations of complicity in the scam and dismissed two petitions — one by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy and another by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation — that had accused him of wrongdoing in the case.
The petitions had challenged a February 4 judgment by a special CBI court and sought an investigation into Chidambaram’s role in the spectrum allotment. They also wanted him added as an accused in the case saying he had helped Raja’s alleged corrupt motives.
However, the apex court, after going through the material put on record by the two petitioners, noted that “no material is available, even prima facie, to conclude that Chidambaram had abused his official position, or used any corrupt or illegal means for obtaining any pecuniary advantage for himself or any other persons, including Raja.”
Swamy said he was disappointed by the verdict and would seek a review. “I did not talk about conspiracy. I spoke about loss to the nation. It is a bad judgment,” he said.
The opposition BJP said that Chidambaram remained “constitutionally and politically accountable” as the nation suffered a loss in spectrum pricing in 2008. “The loss has been caused to the government. Chidambaram was a part of the decision-making process. He is constitutionally accountable, remains politically accountable and that is what we are seeking inside Parliament and will continue to seek in the JPC,” BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
The 59-page judgment of the court, however, said that a criminal conspiracy between Chidambaram and Raja could not be inferred on the basis of a mere fact that there were official discussions between the officers of the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Telecom and also between the two ministers.
“Suspicion, however strong, cannot take the place of legal proof and the meeting between Chidambaram and Raja would not by itself be sufficient to infer the existence of a criminal conspiracy so as to indict Chidambaram...the allegation that Chidambaram had overruled his officers’ views and had conspired with Raja is without any