CBI court acquits Raja, Kanimozh, others in 2G case

CBI court acquits Raja, Kanimozhi and all other accused in 2G case, says prosecution miserably failed to prove the case against the accused

Prakash Kumar

NEW DELHI, DHNS: A Special CBI Court on Thursday acquitted former telecom minister A Raja, Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi and all other accused in the 2G spectrum allocation case.

It also acquitted Essar Group promoters Ravikant Ruia, Anshuman Ruia and all other six accused in a separate case filed by the CBI in connection with the irregularities in the second generation spectrum allocation.

The Special Court cited lack of evidence while delivering the verdict.

Described as India's biggest telecom scandal, the 2G cases was among the major corruption cases that came to light during the second term of the UPA government. In the run-up to the 2014 polls, it provided fuel to the opposition charges of corruption under prime minister Manmohan Singh's watch, dealing a blow to the Congress's electoral fortunes.

But, the Special CBI Judge O P Saini said, "A huge scam was seen by everyone where there was none...some people created a scam by artfully arranging a few selected facts and exaggerating things beyond recognition to astronomical levels."

He declared that investigators "miserably failed" to prove that Raja, along with officials from companies that won the licences for telecom services, had conspired to receive kickbacks from the sale of phone permits, causing a loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore to the government.

"I have absolutely no hesitation in holding that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove any charge against any of the accused, made in its well choreographed charge sheet. Accordingly all accused are entitled to be acquitted and are acquitted," Special CBI Judge O P Saini held.

The chargesheet of the instant case is based mainly on "misreading, selective reading, non-reading and out of context reading" of the official record, the court observed

"Further, it is based on some oral statements made by the witnesses during investigation, which the witness have not owned up in the witness-box," it added.

Both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said they will file an appeal against the Special Court's verdict in the Delhi High Court.

The court did not appreciate the evidence in "proper perspective," a CBI spokesperson told reporters.

Former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja's erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, STPL promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, manging director of the Unitech Sanjay Chandra and three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG)--Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair-are among other accused acquitted by the Court in the case.

The CBI had filed two separate cases-one against Raja, Kanimozhi and 15 other accused while the other case against the Essar Group promoters and six others. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) later filed a separate case against 10 persons including Raja, Kanimozhi, DMK patriarch's ailing wife Dayalu Ammal for laundering of Rs 200 crore.

The verdict comes more than eight years after the CBI filed a first information report (FIR) against "unknown persons" in the case and began its investigations following a recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

The trial of the case began after the CBI filed its first chargesheet in the court against a total of nine persons including Raja and three telecom companies-Swan Telecom Private Limited (STPL), Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) and Reliance Telecom Limited-on April 2, 2011.

Names of five other persons including Kanimozhi figured as accused in the case in a supplementary chargesheet that the CBI filed in the CBI court later on April 25, 2011.

In the chargesheet, the CBI claimed that the irregularities in the allocations of 122 2G spectrum caused a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the public exchequer.

These 122 licences were later scrapped by the Supreme Court on February 2, 2012.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report on November 10, 2010 had observed irregularities in the spectrum allocations, saying it caused an estimated "presumptive loss" of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to public exchequer.

"The genesis of the instant case lies not so much in actions of Raja but in the action/inaction of others (in the case). There is no material on record to show that Raja was mother lode of conspiracy in the instant case. There is also no evidence of his no-holds-barred immersion in any wrongdoing, conspiracy or corruption," the Special CBI Judge held.

There was also no evidence on record to indicate that Rs 200 crore was transferred to Kalaignar TV (P) Limited as illegal gratification, the court added.

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