A special court in Delhi on Thursday acquitted all the accused in the 2G spectrum allocation cases. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP Kanimozhi, former Telecom Minister A Raja, former Telecom Secretary Sidharth Behura and Raja’s private secretary RK Chandolia were some of the big names in the case. They were all out on bail.
Kanimozhi and Raja were present at the Patiala House Court complex as per Special Judge OP Saini’s order. Saini has been hearing two separate cases related to the 2G spectrum scam since April 2011. The final arguments in the case were concluded on April 26, 2017.
The court also ordered the acquitted in the case to furnish a bail bond of Rs 5 lakh each to ensure their presence in a higher appellate court if the verdict is challenged in future.
Special Judge OP Saini criticised the Central Bureau of Investigation for “misreading” the case. “There is no evidence on the record produced before the Court indicating any criminality in the acts allegedly committed by the accused persons,” he said. “The chargesheet of the instant case is based mainly on misreading, selective reading, non-reading and out of context reading of the official record.”
Soon after the verdict, celebrations broke out outside the Patiala House Court complex as supporters of Raja put up placards calling him “The Hero”.
Vijay Aggarwal, lawyer of Swan Telecom promoters – Shashid Usman Balwa, Vinod Goenka and others – told reporters that the court had observed that the prosecution had miserably failed to prove any of the charges. “Thus all accused are acquitted,” he said.
Kanimozhi thanked her supporters for standing by her. Former Union minister P Chidambaram said it was now established that allegations of a major scam involving the highest levels of the government were never true.
“Victory begins now,” said DMK leader Durai Murugan. “This case was made against us with political motives. Conspiracies were hatched against us, however, all that has been blown away now.”
The CBI had investigated one of the cases and the Enforcement Directorate the other. Raja and Kanimozhi are among the key accused in the scam. In November, the court deferred the verdict to December 5. Saini had then said that the voluminous documents filed in the case were still being perused as a result of which the ruling was not ready.
The alleged scandal is said to have originated in 2008, when the Union Ministry of Communications and Information Technology sold 122 2G licenses on a first-come-first-served basis.
The primary allegation was that Raja, as the Union Telecom Minister, chose this method to favour a few companies and received kickbacks for doing so. The Enforcement Directorate claimed that kickbacks earned from the scam were routed to the DMK-run television channel Kalaignar TV, in which Kanimozhi and Dayalu Ammal, the wife of DMK patriarch Karunanidhi, held 80% of the shares.
The CBI holds that Raja incurred huge losses for the state exchequer by undercharging telecom firms. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India had estimated the total loss to be Rs 1.76 lakh crore.