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The appeal filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the 2G case came up for hearing in the Delhi High Court today.
The counsel appearing for a few of the accused submitted to Justice SP Garg that they were yet to be served notice. In this light, time was sought to file their replies.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI and the ED submitted that it was unfortunate that the High Court was hearing an appeal against the acquittal of the accused, instead of hearing the appeal against their conviction. He said,
“2G Spectrum case is a monument of corruption in the history of India and a national shame.”
He urged the Court to resist any attempt made by the accused to delay the proceedings in the Delhi High Court.
The matter has now been listed for August 8.
The CBI and the ED had filed an appeal in the High Court against the order of the Special CBI court at Patiala House, which had acquitted all 19 accused in the 2G case, including A Raja, Kanimozhi, Shahid Balwa and Karim Morani.
In March this year, the Delhi High Court had issued notice to Raja, Kanimozhi and seventeen others implicated in the 2G scam alleged to have taken place during the UPA regime.
As per the CBI’s charges, Raja, who was Telecom Minister during the UPA regime, caused huge losses to the state exchequer by undercharging telecom firms for frequency licences. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India had estimated the total loss to be Rs 1.76 trillion.
In his 1500+ page verdict, CBI judge OP Saini had held that given the lack of evidence mounted by the prosecution, he had no choice but to give a clean chit to the accused. In fact, in para 1811 of the judgment, the judge stated that he had been waiting in vain for over six years to receive a shred of credible evidence.
“I may also add that for the last about seven years, on all working days, summer vacation included, I religiously sat in the open Court from 10 AM to 5 PM, awaiting for someone with some legally admissible evidence in his possession, but all in vain. Not a single soul turned up.
This indicates that everybody was going by public perception created by rumour, gossip, and speculation. However, public perception has no place in judicial proceedings.”
And it is this speculation that had sent Raja and co to the gallows, so to speak, even before the trial began. The judge notes that none of the people who did the same came forth to prove the accusations.
“It is also to be noted that there are many representations on the record made by various prominent public-spirited persons before various Authorities relating to wrongdoing in the instant case. However, none of them also volunteered to enter the witnessbox. What does all this mean? Apparently, this means that nobody had any good or first-hand material in his possession.”
The judge had also chastised the CBI as well as the officials of the Department of Telecom for doing a shoddy job of making the case.
“The fate of the case thus depended upon witnesses from DoT and from the companies of the accused. The witnesses from DoT were either highly guarded, and if I may say so hesitant, in their deposition, and also went against official record rendering themselves unreliable. Witnesses from the companies of the accused also did not support the prosecution version…
…The charge sheet of the instant case is based mainly on misreading, selective reading, nonreading and out of context reading of the official record. Further, it is based on some oral statements made by the witnesses during the investigation, which the witnesses have not owned up in the witnessbox. Lastly, if statements were made orally by the witnesses, the same were contrary to the official record and thus, not acceptable in law.”
Therefore, the judge was left with no choice but to acquit Raja, Kanimozhi and several higher-ups at big corporates.