Giving a body blow to the CAG’s and CBI’s estimation of huge loss in grant of 2G licences, a special court today held that some people “artfully” arranged few selected facts and created a scam “when there was none”. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report that created an uproar when the UPA was in power, had estimated that the 2G scam had caused an astronomical loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the state exchequer. The CBI had alleged in its charge sheet that there was a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of licences for 2G spectrum, which were scrapped by the Supreme Court on February 2, 2012. Special CBI Judge O P Saini, who today acquitted former telecom minister A Raja and others in three separate 2G cases, observed that due to various “actions and inactions” of the government officials concerned of the Department of Telecom (DoT), a huge scam was seen by everyone in the entire case.
“However, on account of the various actions and inactions of the officials, as noted above, nobody believed the version of DoT and a huge scam was seen by everyone where there was none. These factors compelled people to conjecture about a big scam,” the court said in its 1,552-page verdict in the CBI’s case involving Raja and others. “Thus, some people created a scam by artfully arranging a few selected facts and exaggerating things beyond recognition to astronomical levels,” Saini said. The special judge also said that policy decisions of the DoT were “scattered” in different official files and were thus, difficult to trace and understand. “These are only a few examples of how policy issues are strewn around here and there in a disorderly manner. Because of this, it becomes very difficult for outside agencies and institutions to understand issues in proper perspective, leaving scope for controversy,” the court noted.
It said that files in the DoT were opened and closed too quickly in an “haphazard manner” even for a small issue and there was no systematic way of dealing with issues in one file in a sequential manner at one place. It observed that documents relating to one issue were placed or inserted whimsically in any file without any regard for relevance of the issue and it was very difficult to know as to how many files were opened for dealing with a particular issue and why. “When documents are not traceable easily and readily and policy issues are scattered haphazardly in so many files, it becomes difficult for anyone to understand the issues,” it said. “Nonunderstanding of issues in proper perspective led to a suspicion of grave wrongdoing, where there was none, at least as per record of the court. This factor greatly contributed to the controversy in the instant case as the DoT could neither effectively communicate the issues to others nor others could understand the same,” the judge said.
Saini said lack of clarity in policies and guidelines also added to the confusion and guidelines were framed in such technical language that meaning of many terms was not clear even to the DoT officers. The court said when DoT officers themselves did not understand the departmental guidelines and their glossary, how could they blame companies and others for their violation. “The worst thing is that despite knowing that the meaning of a particular term was ambiguous and may lead to problems, no steps were taken to rectify the situation. This continued year after year,” it said.