CBI v A Raja & Others
By Jyoti Singh
CC No:01/11 2. Case RC No: 45 (A) 2009, CBI, ACB, New Delhi.
· FACTS OF THE CASE-
The 2G Spectrum scam was an alleged scam by the politicians and government officials Congress led coalition government in India. The Union Government was accused of undercharging telecom operators for the frequency allocation licenses causing a loss of 1.76 lakh crores as per the CAG’s report. In the year 2012, the Supreme Court of India ruled on a Public Interest Litigation related to the 2G spectrum allocation. The court held that the allotment of spectrum "unconstitutional and arbitrary". It led to the cancellation of 122 licenses issued in 2008 under A. Raja, the Minister of Communications & IT. According to the court’s view, Raja "wanted to favor some companies at the cost of the public exchequer" and virtually gifted away important national assets. The Time magazine listed the India's Telecoms Scandal as one of the Top 10 abuses of power in the country.
· ISSUES OF THE CASE-
1. That the telecom ministry under A Raja changed rules and eligibility criteria several times in the run-up to auction.
2. That the cut-off date of the auction was advanced by the ministry.
3. That the ministry issued licenses on a distorted First Come First Served (FCFS) Policy and that too at throwaway prices, i.e. as per 2001 rates and not 2008 rates.
4. That theofficials at the ministry allegedly shut counters to physically block selected telecom companies from entering the fray.
5. That Telecom Minister Raja acted against the advice of TRAI, Law Ministry, and Finance Ministry.
· ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF CBI-
A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), the Supreme Auditing body of the country, then headed by Vinod Rai, revealed 2G licenses had been issued to telecom operators at throwaway prices causing a loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer that licenses had been issued to ineligible applicants who had knowingly suppressed facts, submitted forged and fictitious documents and committed fraud. The CBI also claimed that the first- come first serve basis was brushed aside, misled the ministers, including the Prime Minister and ran an office at home to grant licenses acted against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
· ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF A.RAJA AND OTHERS-
CBI could not provide proof of the fact that A Raja along with other ministers manipulated the cut off dates or the policy of first come, first serve basis. The documentary evidences and witness could not sufficiently prove the ineligibility of license holders, specifically Swan Telecom and Unitech group of companies. There was also no evidence to link A Raja with the transfer of Rs. 200 crore to Kalaignar TV by Dynamix Balwas Group which would indicate transfer of money in exchange of Telecom licenses.
· JUDGMENT IN THE MATTER:
The judgment came seven years after the Supreme Court set up a special court to try the accused in the matter. In the 1552 page order, Spl Judge, CBI, O.P Saini observed that “No one believe the version of DoT and everybody saw a scam where there was none”. It was held that there was no criminality or conspiracy in the allotment of spectrum and said that some individuals created a scam by artfully arranging a few selected facts and exaggerating things beyond recognition. Further the CBI failed to provide oral or documentary evidence as a proof to the allegations. Thus, in 2017, the special court acquitted all accused in the 2G spectrum case including prime accused A Raja and Kanimozhi.
The Enforcement Directorate and CBI respectively filed appeals against this verdict in March, 2018.
· ANALYSIS OF THE MATTER:
The entire case study tells us about the inefficiency and ineffectiveness with which the government departments work in our country. Firstly, the Telecom Ministry acted against the advices of PMO, TRAI, Finance and Legal Ministries. Further, an amount of Rs. 200 Crores. Transferred to Kalaignar TV in which M. K. Kanhimozi (daughter of five time CM of TN and member of DMK with A. Raja) holds 20% share along with her stepmother who holds 60% share in the channel could also not be explained.
Secondly, the premier investigating agency of India, CBI after accusing theses politicians for a scam of Rs. 1,76 Lakh Crores couldn’t provide any strong evidence about the scam in a period of 7 years to prove its allegations, which makes us question the credibility of CBI.
Thirdly, takes us to CAG where it initially reported a notional loss of Rs. 1.76 Lakh Crores. However, the CBI after detailed investigation concluded that the total potential loss due to 2G spectrum scam was Rs. 30,984 Crores.
All these cost the government and the Legal administration a lot of time and money in filings and proceedings leading to inefficiency of the legal system in the country also. According to some analysts, the 2G spectrum case, the coal mining scam, Adarsh Housing Society scam and Commonwealth Games scam helped creating an anti-corruption mindset in the citizens of the country which lead to the UPA Government’s massive defeat in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. All these make a person have an opinion that the NDA government is a very well planned government for its own benefits. What is interesting here is to see whether the plan-benefitted government or the scam-benefitted government influences the Lok Sabha Elections of 2019.