21 December 2017, all accused in the three cases related to the 2G spectrum allocation “scam” have been acquitted by a special CBI court. Deciding the fate of all accused, including former telecom minister A Raja and DMK leader Kanimozhi Karunanithi, the court opined, “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.” In its detailed judgments, running into a couple of thousand pages, the court has dissected the various aspects of the issue and the role alleged against the accused.
The CBI had claimed that Raja had devised his own way of granting telecom licences, brushed aside the first-come-first-served principle, misled the (then) Prime Minister, disregarded the concerns of other ministries and ran a parallel office at home to grant licences to whosoever offered him gratification.
The court observed issue of grant of licences and issuance of letter of intent (LOI) by changed criteria, which was justified by Raja, was not placed before the then Prime Minister at the right time. It was alleged that on November 2, 2007 Raja wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister, misrepresenting the facts and fraudulently justifying his decision regarding the cutoff date of September 25, 2007 on the ground that on this date the announcement of cut-off date appeared in newspapers. He allegedly also misled the Prime Minister and incorrectly stated the opinion of the Ministry of Law and Justice to refer the matter to Empowered Group of Ministers (EGOM) to be out of context.
The court asked when the letter was duly discussed and considered by the Prime Minister, and no one from the PMO has been examined as a witness nor the relevant files with processing notes have been produced before the court, how can one say that the facts were misrepresented or that the Prime Minister was misled regarding the opinion of Law Minister for referring the matter to EGoM? “There is no material on record to indicate that the Prime Minister was misled or the facts were misrepresented to him,” opined the court.
In court’s view, the lack of clarity in the policies as well as spectrum allocation guidelines also added to the confusion. The guidelines, it said, were been framed in such technical language that meaning of many terms are not clear even to Department of Telecom (DoT) officers. “When the officers of the department themselves do not understand the departmental guidelines and their glossary, how can they blame companies/ others for violation of the same,” noted the court.
For the court, the “worst thing” is that despite knowing that the meaning of a particular term was ambiguous and may lead to problems, no steps were taken to rectify the situation. “This continued year after year. For example, in the instant case, large part of the controversy relates to interpretation of clause 8, dealing with substantial equity. The terms used in this clause include “associate”, “promoter”, “stake” etc., No one in the DoT knows their meaning, despite the fact that the guidelines were framed by the DoT itself. The interpretation of these words is haunting the DoT since these words were first used, but no steps were taken to assign them a specific meaning. In such circumstances, DoT officers themselves are responsible for the entire mess,” asserted the court.
The CBI alleged that Raja received illegal gratification of Rs 200 crore for the favours shown by him to Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd in the matter of grant of 13 spectrum licences and allocation of spectrum in the year 2008-09. The alleged kickback was received through a channel of various companies. The money was paid by companies of DB Group through partnership firm Dynamix Realty, Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables (P) Limited and Cineyug Films (P) Limited, which was ultimately parked in Kalaignar TV (P) Limited.
By- Nikita Goel, Convenor, Student Reporter Committee, INBA