The acquittal of all the accused, including former telecom minister A Raja and DMK leader Kanimozhi, in the 2G scam case is a slap in the face of the CBI, which investigated the case. It is also a stinging comment on the prosecution, which failed to establish the case before the court. The special court judge said that the CBI had failed to prove any wrongdoing and there was little by way of actual proof of the charges it made. The judge also said that the prosecution was "highly cautious and guarded" and became "directionless and diffident" towards the end. The 2G scam was termed the biggest in the country's history, with the then CAG reporting that the 2008 allocation of spectrum caused a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer. The CBI placed the loss at Rs 30,984 crore, but the court did not accept even that figure, and said that a scam was created by "artfully arranging a few facts" and "exaggerating things".
The charges related to violation of the first-come-first-serve policy, fixing an arbitrary cut-off date, granting of licence to ineligible companies, payment of a Rs 200 crore bribe to Kalaignar TV, and misleading the then prime minister Manmohan Singh. The court said that records presented to the court did not prove these charges. The first-come-first-serve policy was not a policy followed in all cases. There was no evidence to show that Rs 200 crore was paid as bribe. The prosecution did not question the witnesses in detail to get all the circumstances and the deficiencies in the documents explained. The court felt that a perception of wrongdoing was created by "rumour, gossip and speculation," but these have no place in judicial proceedings.
But the fact remains that there were irregularities, though enough evidence may not have been presented to the court. The Supreme Court had cancelled 122 licences, which had been wrongly awarded, though it may be argued that the issue before the court was not the conspiracy and the criminality involved in the allocation of licences. An examination of criminality has to be very rigorous, as the CBI court judge said, but there might be a view that he exercised too much judicial rigour. The judgement has raised many questions, and they may be answered by the higher courts where it will be contested. The Congress and the DMK have found some comfort but, as the final word is yet to be said, it will be unfortunate if the judgement strengthens the impression that highly placed persons can get away with corruption and violation of law.