A special CBI court has acquitted all accused, including A Raja and Kanimozhi, in the 2G spectrum scam case, saying “quality of prosecution totally deteriorated and it became directionless and diffident”.
Bouyed by the verdict, the DMK and the Congress say the entire case was a “massive conspiracy” and “propaganda”. Former UPA ministers Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari and Veerappa Moily say former CAG Vinod Rai — who had pegged the loss to the exchequer at Rs 1.76 lakh crore — should be held accountable now.
In her first reaction after being acquitted, Kanimozhi told CNN-News18 that “justice has prevailed”. Former telecom minister A Raja said he’ll first read the verdict “like a good lawyer and then comment”.
Special CBI judge OP Saini said the prosecution has failed to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, a private complainant in the case, wants the CBI to appeal against the acquittals in High Court.
The trial in 2G spectrum scam started six years ago in 2011 after the court had framed charges against 17 accused in the CBI case for offences that entailed punishment ranging from six months to life imprisonment. One of the cases in which judgement is likely to be delivered on Thursday involves Essar Group promoters Ravi Kant Ruia and Anshuman Ruia, Loop Telecom promoters Kiran Khaitan, her husband I P Khaitan and Essar Group Director (Strategy and Planning) Vikash Saraf as accused.
According to a report in NDTV, A Raja was born in May 1963 in Perambalur, Tamil Nadu. Raja, a Dalit, was a student leader of the Dravidar Kazhagam, the parent body of the DMK. He rose through the ranks quickly and was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996. Raja received breaks in his political career and became Cabinet minister in the NDA regime by the age of 35, holding several portfolios in the NDA and UPA regime. He was appointed telecom minister in May 2007, according to the NDTV report.
MK Kanimozhi is the daughter of DMK leader and former Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi. According to a report in India Today, Kanimozhi, DMK Rajya Sabha member, has been alleged to be the "active brain" behind the operations of her family-owned Kalaignar TV, of which she owns 20 percent. She allegedly worked with A Raja to get DB Realty promoter Shahid Balwa to circuitously route Rs 200 crore to Kalaignar TV. She was accused of criminal conspiracy to cause criminal breach of trust by a public servant, criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery. She was booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act and arrested on 20 May, 2011 and was granted bail on 28 November, 2012 after spending 188 days in judicial custody in Tihar jail, according to the report.
Siddharth Behura and RK Chandolia
Behura was telecom secretary in 2008 when the licenses were granted and was said to be a close aide of A Raja. Behura is known as the man who signed the files which led to the allocation of 122 licenses. He was arrested along with Raja and Chandolia. According to a report in Economic Times, Behura said he was being made a 'scapegoat' and demanded that P Chidambaram, the finance minister in 2008, and Subbarao, the then finance secretary, be made accused in the case, along with his predecessor DS Mathur. Behura alleged that Mathur dismissed all objections to raising the entry fee for new entrants in the sector, according to the Economic Times report.
According to a report in TheNewsMinute, because Raja and Behura were public servants, they face a possible sentence of life in prison as a charge of criminal breach of trust (IPC section 409) has been slapped on them. The other 12 accused have been charged with criminal conspiracy to cause criminal breach of trust by a public servant (IPC Section 120B read with section 409), according to the report.
According to a report in Yahoo Finance, Behura and Chandolia allegedly shut counters to physically block other telecom companies from applying once the application deadline time was declared between 3:30 and 4:30 pm.
According to a report in The Times of India, Shahid Usman Balwa, who was the managing director of Dynamix Balwas Group, was just one of the many restaurateurs of the city till 2007, when he partnered with Vinod Goenka to form DB Realty. The company’s net worth skyrocketed from a modest Rs 657.70 crore in March 2008 to Rs 3,097 crore in March 2010. Shahid Balwa’s own net worth reached $1.02 billion, making him one of the 100 richest Indians according to Forbes magazine, according to the report. Even as their official website says the Balwa family has been into real estate for the past 98 years, very little is known about their business ventures before floating DB Realty, apart from the fact that the Balwa family migrated from a small town in Gujarat to Mumbai to start a restaurant in south Mumbai, The Times of India reported.
According to a report in Sify.com, Balwa-promoted DB reality floated Swan Telecom. Raja allegedly helped Swan bag 2G licences for 13 circles, including Mumbai and Delhi, for Rs 1,537 crores but Swan sold 45 percent shares to the UAE telecom giant Etisalat for approximately Rs 4,500 crore within months of bagging the spectrum, according to the report.
The case so far
The trial in 2G spectrum scam started six years ago in 2011 after the court had framed charges against 17 accused in the CBI's case for the offences which entails punishment ranging from six months in life imprisonment.
One of the cases in which judgment is likely to be delivered involves Essar Group promoters Ravi Kant Ruia and Anshuman Ruia, Loop Telecom promoters Kiran Khaitan, her husband IP Khaitan and Essar Group director (strategy and planning) Vikash Saraf as accused.
In the first case filed by the CBI, Raja and Kanimozhi are facing trial along with Behura, Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra and three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG): Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair.
Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV director Sharad Kumar and Bollywood producer Karim Morani are also accused in it.
Besides them, three telecom firms—Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd (STPL), Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd—are also accused in the case. All the accused facing trial in these cases have denied the allegations levelled against them by the CBI and the ED.
The court had in October 2011 framed charges against them under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, using as genuine fake documents, abusing official position, criminal misconduct by public servant and taking bribe.
In its chargesheet filed in April 2011 against Raja and others, CBI had alleged that there was a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of 122 licences for 2G spectrum which were scrapped by the Supreme Court on 2 February, 2012.
In the case involving promoters of Essar Group, Loop Telecom and Saraf, three companies—Loop Telecom Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Tele Holding Ltd (ETHL)—were also named by the CBI in its charge sheet.
While the court had charged them with the offence under section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) read with section 420 (cheating) of IPC, substantial charge of cheating was made out against Saraf. The CBI had named them in its charge sheet on 12 December, 2011, alleging they had cheated the Department of Telecommunication by using Loop Telecom as a "front" to secure 2G licences in 2008.
Later, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed a charge sheet against Raja, Kanimozhi and others for alleged offence of money laundering. The ED had listed 19 accused in its charge sheet in April 2014, including Raja, Kanimozhi, Shahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka, Asif Balwa, Rajiv Aggarwal, Karim Morani, P Amirtham and Sharad Kumar in connection with the case.
In its charge sheet, the ED had also named DMK supremo M Karunanidhi's wife Dayalu Ammal as an accused in the case in which it had alleged that Rs 200 crore was paid by STPL promoters to DMK-run Kalaignar TV.
In its final report, the ED had named 10 individuals and nine companies as accused and listed them in the charge sheet for the offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Besides Kalaignar TV, the other companies accused in the case are STPL (now Etisalat DB Telecom (P) Ltd), Kusegaon Realty (P) Ltd, Cineyug Media & Entertainment (P) Ltd, Dynamix Realty, Eversmile Construction Company (P) Ltd, Conwood Construction & Developers (P) Ltd, DB Realty Ltd and Mystical Construction (P) Ltd (earlier known as Nihar Constructions (P) Ltd).
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Dec 21, 2017 15:10:18 IST