Former Telecom Minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and all others have been acquitted in the 2G spectrum scam case by Special CBI court, in New Delhi today.
Earlier, sessions judge O P Saini had asked for additional 3 weeks to write the judgment on the 2G scam case which has at least 4,000 pages of testimonials of over 150 witnesses. In 2011 Time magazine listed 2g scam as one of the top 10 abuses of power and this highlights the complexity of the verdict.
2g scam: The case
The issue involved grant of 122 telecom licenses on first-come-first-serve basis in 2008 (when Raja was telecom minister), bundled with spectrum, at prices determined in 2001, allegedly causing a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the public exchequer, according the CBI. The Comptroller & Auditor General had however put the loss at Rs1.76 lakh crore. The Supreme Court, in 2012, declared the first-come-first-serve process of allocating airwaves faulty and cancelled the 122 licenses belonging to 9 telcos. (telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com)
Main accused in the case:
1. A. Raja - DMK (then telecom minister) Allegations: A CBI charge sheet alleged that Raja conspired with the accused and arbitrarily changed the first-come, first-served policy to ensure that Swan Telecom Pvt. Ltd.
2. (STPL) and Unitech received licences.
Charges: Criminal breach of trust by a public servant (section 409), criminal conspiracy (Section 120-B), cheating (Section 420), forgery for purpose of cheating (Section 468), using a forged document as genuine (Section 471);
Booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act for criminal misconduct and illegal gratification M. K. Kanimozhi – DMK MP Allegations: The CBI alleges that Kanimozhi, major shareholder of Kalaignar TV, conspired with Raja to route Rs 200 crore from DB Realty and Swan co-founder Shahid Balwa, to the TV company, in return for grant of spectrum to Swan Telecom. Kanimozhi was charged with tax evasion by the Income Tax Department in Chennai. Charges: Criminal conspiracy (Section 120-B) and booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act for illegal gratification by a public servant.
3. Siddharth Behura - Telecom Secretary (from Jan. 2008 to Sept. 2009) during which the licenses were granted (in late 2008) Allegations: According to the CBI charge sheet, Behura conspired with Raja and others. When the application deadline time was declared, from 3:30 to 4:30 pm Behura closed counters to block other telecom companies.
Charges: Criminal breach of trust by a public servant (Section 409), criminal conspiracy (Section 120-B), cheating (Section 420) and using a forged document as genuine (Sections 471); booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act for criminal misconduct.
4. RK Chandolia - Raja's private secretary when the licenses were granted. Allegations: According to the CBI charge sheet, Chandolia, like Behura, conspired with Raja and others; when the application deadline time was declared from 3:30 to 4:30 pm, Chandolia joined Behura in shutting counters to physically block other telecom companies.
Charges: Criminal conspiracy (Section 120 B), booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act for criminal misconduct
5. Ravi Ruia - Vice-chair, Essar Group Anshuman Ruia - Director, Essar Group Vikas Saraf - Director of strategy and planning, Essar Group IP Khaitan - Corporate promoter, Loop Telecom Kiran Khaitan - Corporate promoter, Loop Telecom Allegations: The CBI has accused Essar of using Loop Telecom as a "front" to secure 2G licenses in 2008, thereby cheating the Department of Telecom
Charges: Criminal conspiracy (Section 120 B) and cheating (Section 420)
6. Sanjay Chandra - Former Unitech Wireless managing director Allegations: Accused by CBI of colluding with Raja to benefit from the 2008 allocation of spectrum at throwaway prices. After getting spectrum in early 2008 by paying the government Rs 1,658 crore entry fee, Unitech sold 67.25 per cent to Telenor of Norway for Rs 6,120 crore, which valued the company at Rs 9,100 crore — more than five times the entry fee.
Charges: Criminal conspiracy to cheat (Section 420 with 120-B)
7. Gautam Doshi - Former Group Managing Director, Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group Hari Nair - Senior vice-president, Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group Surendra Pipara - Senior vice-president, Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group.
Allegations: Reliance Telecom Ltd (RTL), the telecom arm of Reliance ADAG, had used Swan Telecom Pvt. Ltd. (STPL), an ineligible firm, as front company to get the 2G licenses and airwaves in 14 circles. CBI alleged that R-ADAG funded STPL through a "circuitous route".
Allegations: Morani-owned Cineyug Films was used by Shahid Balwa to channel Rs 200 crore illegally to Kalaignar TV. Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka transferred the money to Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables, where Balwa's younger brother Asif was a director. Kusegaon then transferred it to Cineyug Films, and Morani transferred it to Kalaignar TV. (telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com)
3 Separate judgments
1. The first case filed by CBI: A Raja and Kanimozhi are the main accused along with former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura, and Raja's then Private Secretary RK Chandolia. Among the businessmen on trial are Swan Telecom and DB Group promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd Managing Director D Sanjay Chandra, Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group executives Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair. The other accused in the case are Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV Director Sharad Kumar and Bollywood producer Karim Morani. The three companies - Reliance Telecom Ltd, Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd. (https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/2g-spectrum-verdict-all-you-need-know-about-case-shook-upa-govt-73478)
While framing charges, Special Judge OP Saini had in October 2011 stated, "I am prima facie satisfied that accused A Raja and Siddhartha Behura, being public servants, that is, political and administrative heads of the DoT respectively, were having dominion over valuable 2G spectrum, which was disposed of by them in violation of law and which resulted into unlawful gain to the accused companies and receipt of a bribe of Rs 200 crore by accused A Raja, which was received by Kalaignar TV on his behalf and accordingly, charge of conspiracy to commit criminal breach of trust by public servant is also made out against all accused and substantive offence of criminal breach of trust by public servant is made out only against accused A Raja and Siddhartha Behura."
2. The second case filed by CBI: Essar group promoter Ravi Ruia. His nephew Anshuman Ruia, another Essar group promoter is also facing trial along with Loop Telecom promoters Kiran Khaitan, her husband IP Khaitan and Essar Group Director (Strategy and Planning) Vikash Saraf.
The CBI has also chargesheeted three firms Loop Telecom Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Tele Holding Ltd (ETHL) in this case. Loop Telecom was allocated 21 licenses in 2008 by then Telecom Minister A Raja. (https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/2g-spectrum-verdict-all-you-need-know-about-case-shook-upa-govt-73478)
3. The third case filed by enforcement directorate for money laundering: This case involves the charges of money laundering against A Raja, Kanimozhi and Karunanidhi's second wife Dayalu Ammal and others.
In April 2014, the ED named 10 individuals and nine companies in its charge sheet. The case involves the alleged kickbacks of Rs 200 crore paid by Swan Telecom promoters to Kalaignar TV.
All accused have been charged with criminal conspiracy and under the provisions of the Money Laundering Act. (https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/2g-spectrum-verdict-all-you-need-know-about-case-shook-upa-govt-73478)