2G Scam verdict: In a major setback to CBI and former CAG, a special court in Delhi acquitted all accused in 2G Scam including former telecom minister A Raja and DMK Member of Parliament Kanimozhi. The special court pronounced a one-line judgment. However, the case is not yet over as the Enforcement Director has said it will challenge today’s verdict in Delhi High Court. The verdict could have political repercussions in the coming months. The 2G Scam was one of the reasons behind the massive anti-corruption wave that led to the fall of then UPA government led by Manmohan Singh. As all accused now walk free, it can’t be denied that in the coming days, politics inside and outside the Parliament would be played out on the verdict.
The verdict in separate cases lodged by the CBI and the ED in the infamous 2G scam, which had rocked the UPA government, was announced by Special CBI judge O P Saini. The 2G Spectrum scam trial had started six years ago in 2011 after the court framed charges against 17 accused in the CBI’s case for offences entailing punishment ranging from six months to life imprisonment.
Soon after the judgement was announced, former UPA government ministers like P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal claimed they were vindicated. Sibal even said that the 2G scam was a creation of then Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai. However, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, who takes credit for ‘exposing’ the so-called scam, urged the government to immediately prover its “bonafides” by filing an appeal in the High Court. “Government must prove its bonafides by filing an immediate appeal in High Court,” Swamy tweeted. Before the announcement of the verdict, Swamy’s supporters were trending #SwamyExposedScam.
In a tweet earlier, Swamy had countered claims that he was pursuing the 2G Scam because he is a BJP MP. “When I filed for sanction to prosecute Raja I was Janata Party President. When I won the case in SC in 2012, I was still JP. BJP nowhere,” Swamy tweeted.
The details of the verdict are still not out. So it can’t yet be said as to why the court found that Raja and Kanimozhi were not guilty.
In the first case filed by CBI, Raja and Kanimozhi were facing trial along with former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja’s former 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 were also accused. Apart from them, three telecom firms — Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd (STPL), Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd — were also accused in the case.
All accused had earlier denied the charges levelled by CBI and ED were correct.
Rs 1.76 Lakh crore scam?
The CBI charge sheet in April 2011 against Raja and others, CBI had alleged there was a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of 122 licences for 2G spectrum which were scrapped by the Supreme Court on February 2, 2012. However, CAG report had estimated a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer in the 2G Spectrum allocation. The CBI had calculated the figure of Rs 30,984 crore loss to the exchequer on the basis of adjusted gross revenue. While the CAG had given presumptive loss figure, the CBI had calculated the Rs 30,984 crore loss on the basis of comparison of auction price of spectrum prices in 2001 and the cost at which the licences were allocated in 2007.
The CBI charge sheet had also named Loop Telecom Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Tele Holding Ltd (ETHL). 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.
On December 12, 2011, CBI had named them in its charge sheet, alleging they had cheated the Department of Telecommunication by using Loop Telecom as a “front” to secure 2G licences in 2008. Later, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had also filed a charge sheet against Raja, Kanimozhi and others for the alleged offence of money laundering. In April 2014, ED had listed 19 accused in its charge sheet including Raja, Kanimozhi, Shahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka, Asif Balwa, Rajiv Aggarwal, Karim Morani, P Amirtham and Sharad Kumar. The ED charge sheet had also named DMK supremo M Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal as an accused in the case in which it had alleged that Rs 200 crore was paid by STPL promoters to DMK-run Kalaignar TV.
ED’s final report had named 10 individuals and nine companies as accused and listed them in the charge sheet
for the offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Apart from Kalaignar TV, the other companies accused in the case were STPL (now Etisalat DB Telecom (P) Ltd), Kusegaon Realty (P) Ltd, Cineyug Media & Entertainment (P) Ltd, Dynamix Realty, Eversmile Construction Company (P) Ltd, Conwood Construction & Developers (P) Ltd, DB Realty Ltd and Mystical Construction (P) Ltd (earlier known as Nihar Constructions (P) Ltd).