CAG report in 2010 had estimated that 2G spectrum allocation during A Raja’s term as Union telecom minister had cost the exchequer Rs 1.76 lakh crore
A special CBI court in Delhi will, on December 21, decide the fate of former Union telecom minister A Raja, DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s daughter and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi and a host of other high-profile accused, in three cases related to the 2G spectrum scam case.
The case pertains to the alleged irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum and licenses to telecom companies during the UPA-I regime of then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh when DMK leader A Raja was the Union telecom minister.
Raja had been forced to resign from the Manmohan Singh cabinet in November 2010 after a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) claimed that the “arbitrary” allocation of 2G spectrum and licenses by Raja in 2007-2008 had led to a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer.
Subsequent investigations into the scam by agencies like the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate had pointed to wide-ranging irregularities by Raja, DMK leaders Kanimozhi and Dayanidhi Maran and a host of head honchos of telecom companies not only in the spectrum allocation process but also in subsequent sale of the finite spectrum and licenses by some telecom companies to others, who reportedly paid a much higher price for buying the spectrum than what the original allottees had paid to the Centre.
Special CBI judge OP Saini had begun hearing three cases related to the 2G spectrum scam in April 2011. Last month, special CBI judge Saini had, at his Patiala House courtroom, postponed the date for fixing a date for the pronouncement of judgment for December 5. Two out of the three cases being adjudicated at the special CBI court have been filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) while the third has been filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
On Tuesday, in a brief order, judge Saini said: “I have perused the files and will pronounce judgement on December 21 at 10.30 a.m.” The court has also directed all accused in the case as well as the counsel for the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate to be present in the courtroom on judgement day and said that the entry into the courtroom that day will be based on a first-cum-first serve basis in the following order – accused, prosecution and the media.
Raja, who was present at the Patiala House Court premises on Tuesday said that he had “faith in the judiciary” but declined to comment on his expectations from the verdict.
Meanwhile, DMK MP Kanimozhi, who had also arrived at the Patiala House Court premises refused to comment on the court’s order or her expectations from the judgement.
According to the CBI, which has filed two of the three cases on which judge Saini will pronounce his verdict on December 21, Raja was biased in allocating 2G spectrum waves and operating licences to telecom firms. The CBI chargesheet in the case against Raja and Kanimozhi alleges that Rs. 200 crore were transferred from DB Group to the DMK-controlled Kalaignar TV as kickbacks in lieu of allocation of 2G spectrum to Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd.
The Enforcement Directorate has filed a separate case related to money laundering, alleging that a conspiracy was hatched by Raja, Kanimozhi, DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal and others and that Rs. 200 crore was proceeds of the crime.
On December 21, the court will also deliver its judgement in the 2G scam case against Essar and Loop telecom companies. The CBI has alleged that promoters of the Essar Group were the real investors and beneficiaries of the spectrum. Licences were issued to Loop Telecom, a front company of Essar to acquire these along with the 2G spectrum in 2008, the ED has claimed.
Politically, a guilt verdict against Raja and Kanimozhi could give a huge boost to the BJP in cornering the Congress party during the upcoming winter session of Parliament and denting the Opposition’s planned offensive against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling NDA regime. The BJP had been at the vanguard of protests against the then UPA regime when the 2G spectrum scam broke and had alleged that the irregularities were the result of then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s inability to rein in Raja – a member of the DMK which was a key ally in the UPA coalition. The BJP had also sought to paint Manmohan Singh and the Congress as equally responsible for the scam as Raja, asserting that they were “guilty by association” with the DMK’s tainted leader.