2G spectrum scam judgment sees all 19 accused acquitted: CBI's latest miss part of a long list of failures

A special court on Thursday acquitted 19 accused, including former telecom minister A Raja and DMK leader Kanimozhi in the Enforcement Directorate's money laundering case relating to the 2G scam.

While announcing the verdict, special judge OP Saini said, "I have no hesitation in holding that record is not sufficient and the prosecution has miserably failed in proving charges. All accused are acquitted." He further added, "In the beginning, the prosecution started with the case with great enthusiasm and ardour. However, as the case progressed, it became highly cautious and guarded in its attitude making it difficult to find out as to what prosecution wanted to prove. The quality of prosecution totally deteriorated and it became directionless and diffident."

While the ED was also involved in the prosecution, these words were harsh indictment of the CBI which had asserted in its chargesheet that kickbacks were given in lieu of allocation of 2G spectrum to Swan Telecom.

Unfortunately this isn't the first time the CBI's efforts have been criticised.

Arushi murder case

The CBI's investigation into the Aarushi murder case was called a goof-up and court described its theory "patently absurd". In its 273-page verdict acquitting dentists Nupur and Rajesh Talwar in the murder of their daughter Aarushi and Hemraj, it also said the prosecution "miserably failed" to prove that the Talwars had destroyed material evidence and added that the finding recorded to the contrary by the trial court could not be maintained.

 2G spectrum scam judgment sees all 19 accused acquitted: CBIs latest miss part of a long list of failures

Representational image. AFP

Ajay Kumar writing for Firstpost said that the CBI's failure to establish a sequence of events compelled the Allahabad High Court to acquit the Talwars. One of the key failures in the CBI's case was that they failed to establish a clear chain of events that were backed up by evidence. They failed to establish how the murder could have been committed and also failed to establish the links between the inception of the motive for the murder and the actual act. There was nothing but circumstantial evidence to prove that they saw Aarushi and the house help in a compromising position.

Bofors arms deal case

In another government-related scam, the judiciary questioned its decision to drop the case against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in the Bofors pay-off scam, saying there were "certain malafide intentions". The accused was let off by the CBI for his alleged involvement in the high profile Rs 1,500 crore Bofors arms deal case citing lack of evidence.

Quattrocchi had fled India in 1993 before the CBI could question him in the 1986 Bofors kickback scam. The controversial Italian businessman was allegedly the conduit of the Bofors scam and close to the Gandhis.

On 20 January, 1990, the CBI had filed a criminal case to find out who were the beneficiaries of kickbacks from Bofors deal. Two charge sheets were filed by the CBI in this case, on 22 October,  1999 and then on 9 October 2000. However, in 2003 and 2007, the CBI had failed to extradite Quattrocchi who was named as the main accused back to India. Finally, in 2009, it first removed the red corner notice against Quattrocchi and then sought permission to withdraw prosecution against him.

After 20 years and a loss of Rs 250 crore to the exchequer, a Delhi court in 2011 accepted the CBI closure report against Quattrocchi in the Bofors pay-off case. The case had led to the defeat of the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1989 amidst charges of political corruption.

Coal scam case

In the other big scam which rocked the UPA government, the CBI was tasked with investigating coal block allocation scam cases. However in August, the Supreme Court expressed its displeasure over the non-completion of investigations in the cases.

The apex court observed that it has repeatedly asked the CBI to complete the ongoing investigations in these cases but “it doesn’t seem to come to an end." "We have been requesting the CBI from time-to-time to expedite the ongoing investigations, but it doesn’t seem to come to an end," a three-judge bench had said.

Dow bribery case

In January, a CBI special judge discharged De-Nocil Crop Protection (presently Dow Agro Sciences India, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical of the US) in a case involving bribing an Indian official to get their products registered, reported Hindustan Times. The blame was laid on the CBI as it had failed to attach oral or documentary evidence while filing the supplementary chargesheet. The court said that as the chargesheet was not supported by evidence, it was “bad in law” and the court could not take cognisance of it.

"Independent" witnesses

Also in January, the agency was pulled up by a Delhi court for falsely implicating a police officer in corruption by producing a fake witness, according to India Today. The court had observed that Maan Singh, who has testified as an independent witness for the CBI on 27 occasions in various cases, was not even present at the scene when a trap was laid to catch the cop.

The report detailed a bribery case where Singh was produced as witness. However, during the trial the defence counsel submitted through an RTI reply that Singh was the CBI's "stock witness". The documents showed that Singh had deposed as a witness for the agency 27 times in several cases.

1984 anti-Sikh riots

In 2015, the CBI filed a closure report in a case against senior Congress leader Jagdish Tytler in connection with 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The filing of the closure report by the investigating agency was protested by the victim's counsel, who asked why was this done "secretly". CBI had said it has conducted further probe in the case, as directed by a sessions court, and filed a closure report in the matter. In April 2013, CBI was directed by a sessions court to further investigate the case as it set aside its earlier closure report.

Tytler had earlier got a clean chit twice from the CBI, which had closed the case.

Updated Date: Dec 21, 2017 14:25:12 IST