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All 2G scam accused acquitted, but does this mean there were no irregularities?

A special court on Thursday acquitted 19 accused, including former telecom minister A Raja and DMK leader Kanimozhi in the Enforcement Directorate’s money laundering case relating to the 2G scam.

analysis Updated: Dec 21, 2017 19:18 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
2G‬ scam,2G verdict,Live updates
Former telecom minister A Raja at the Patiala House court on Thursday.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

A special court hearing what is popularly called the 2G scam has ruled that the prosecution has not proved the charges against the accused in any of the cases. The matter concerns alleged irregularities in the allotment of spectrum by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2008. The controversy blew up in 2009-10, and the first arrest was made in 2011 by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

In 2012, the Supreme Court cancelled 122 telecom licences issued by the UPA.

(2G spectrum scam verdict Live updates)

However, the special court’s ruling does not mean the Supreme Court’s reasoning or logic was flawed, as claimed by Congress MP and former telecom minister Kapil Sibal in a TV interview (to CNBC TV18) after the judgment. The Supreme Court can rule on anything, even government policies, and in the 2G case, it decided that there was enough proof to show that there were irregularities. Indeed, in some way, it was that decision that prompted the move to an auctioning regime for spectrum.

The special court was actually ruling on a combination of three cases: whether former telecom minister A Raja and others were guilty of criminal conspiracy; whether Loop Telecom was a front put up by the Essar Group to circumvent laws; and whether A Raja and others were guilty of laundering around Rs 200 crore.

(How the case progressed)

The first two cases were filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The third was filed by the Enforcement Directorate. Its ruling just means that none of these could be proved by the prosecution. But it does not mean the Supreme Court’s decision was flawed. That decision wasn’t based on whether or not there was a criminal conspiracy by A Raja or others. It was based on what the court saw as irregularities in the issue of licences and spectrum – and the truth is, back then, there was a lot of ad-hocism about this.

First Published: Dec 21, 2017 11:52 IST