The Delhi High Court today refused to allow the plea filed by the Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) seeking to advance the date of hearing in its appeal against the acquittal of A Raja and others in the 2G case.
A Single Judge Bench of Justice AK Chawla ordered,
“(In view of the) totality of facts and circumstances, the application is disposed of…the appeal shall take place on the date already fixed i.e. October 24, 2019.”
On being asked the reason behind the early hearing application, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain submitted that the Indian government was on the verge of facing “humongous arbitration” pursuant to the International Bilateral Treaties all over the world due to the pendency of the appeal. Jain said,
“If we lose on merit, we lose. But we should not lose on account of the matter not being heard.”
He further stated,
“There are large number of respondents…(due to) something or the other, the matter kept getting adjourned. Now we are seeing repercussions.”
Jain thus submitted that at least arguments on leave to appeal ought to be heard by the Court at the earliest.
“The leave to appeal need not wait till October…By the time the main appeal is heard, it will be too late.”
The early hearing application was opposed by the respondents. It was argued that the arguments put forth by the CBI before the Court were not part of the application. It was also claimed that a copy of the application was not served to all the respondents.
After hearing the parties, the Court decided to not advance the next date of hearing. It added that the parties are “expected to” join for the hearing on the next date.
The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate had moved the Delhi High Court in March 2018 against the acquittal of all accused persons in the 2G case in December 2017.
The Court had issued notice in the appeals on March 21, 2018. Since then, the case has remained dormant due to non-completion of pleadings.
In a bid to impose costs on respondents who were yet to file replies in the appeals, the High Court had even called for a tree plantation drive in Delhi’s South Ridge forest area by the errant parties.
As per the CBI’s charges, A 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 December 2017, a Special CBI Court had acquitted DMK politicians A Raja, Kanimozhi, and fifteen others implicated in the 2G Spectrum Case.
In his 1500+ page verdict, CBI judge OP Saini 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 states that he had been waiting in vain for over six years to receive a shred of credible evidence.