'CBI appeal infructuous in view of new anti-graft law'

2G scam case: CBI appeal infructuous in view of new anti-graft law, A Raja tells HC

Former Telecom Minister Andimuthu Raja. (PTI Photo)

Former Union telecom minister A Raja on Monday told the Delhi High Court that the CBI's appeal against his and others' acquittal in the 2G spectrum scam case has become infructuous with the coming of the new anti-corruption law.

Senior advocate Abhishek M Singhvi, appearing for Raja, told the court that the graft charges levelled against him and others in the case have been omitted in the new Prevention of Corruption Act of 2018 and therefore, prosecution in the instant matter cannot go on.

Apart from Raja, his then private secretary R K Chandolia and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura have also raised the issue in separate applications filed by them.

During the brief hearing before Justice Brijesh Sethi, the CBI contended that the applications were not sustainable as this specific issue had been raised in the replies filed in response to the agency's appeal.

However, the CBI's stand was opposed by Singhvi who said this specific issue, of what happens to older cases in light of the new law, has been referred to the high court by a trial court dealing with a corruption matter and is still pending here.

Besides that, the changes in the new PC Act have also been challenged in the Supreme Court where it is still pending, he said, adding that in the present circumstances, the high court may have to refer the issue to the apex court.

Justice Sethi, after hearing the brief arguments, listed the matter for further hearing on January 31.

The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate have challenged the acquittal of all the individuals and companies in the 2G scam corruption and money laundering cases by the trial court.

The CBI had also filed an appeal challenging the acquittal of Essar Group promoters Ravi Kant Ruia and Anshuman Ruia and six others in a separate case arising out of the 2G scam probe.

A special court on December 21, 2017 had acquitted Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and others in CBI and ED cases related to the scam. It had acquitted 17 others, including DMK supremo M Karunanidhi's wife Dayalu Ammal, Vinod Goenka, Asif Balwa, film producer Karim Morani, P Amirtham and Sharad Kumar, director of Kalaignar TV in the ED case.

On the same day, the trial court had also acquitted Behura, Chandolia, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra and three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG) -- Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair -- in the CBI's 2G case.

Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka and directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal were also acquitted in the CBI case.

On March 19, 2018, the ED had approached the high court challenging the special court's order acquitting all the accused.

A day later, the CBI too had challenged in the high court the acquittal of the accused in the case.

The ED, in its charge sheet, had alleged that Rs 200 crore was paid by STPL promoters to DMK-run Kalaignar TV.

The CBI had alleged that there was a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of licences for the 2G spectrum which were scrapped by the top court on February 2, 2012.

Special Judge O P Saini (now retired), however, held that the prosecution had "miserably failed" to prove the charges. The special court, which was set up on March 14, 2011 for hearing 2G cases exclusively, had also acquitted Ruias and others in a separate case arising out of the 2G scam probe.

In the CBI case, Raja, Kanimozhi and 15 others were tried under provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 2013 dealing with offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, abusing official position, criminal misconduct by public servant and taking bribe. 

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