Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi after being acquitted in the 2G scam case on Thursday.
NEW DELHI: Former telecom minister A Raja and M Kanimozhi of the DMK and 15 others were acquitted today of charges in what was described as India's biggest telecom scandal, the "2G scam". The judge said investigators could not prove that Mr Raja, along with officials from companies that won the licenses for telecom services, had conspired to receive kickbacks from the sale of phone permits, causing a loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore to the government. The case became the centerpiece of allegations of egregious corruption on then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's watch. But as the Congress called it a vindication of their government, the ruling BJP has pointed out that the Supreme Court had accepted that there was corruption and cancelled all 122 licenses handed out by Mr Raja.
Here are the top 10 updates in the 2G scam case verdict:
1. 1After some delay over a large crowd that made it difficult for
the 17 accused to enter the court, the judge took just a few moments to
pronounce the verdict, reading out the operative part: "I have no
hesitation in holding that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove the
charges and all the accused are acquitted of the charges."
A Raja, who had defended himself in court and cross-examined all
the witnesses, was in tears. So were his family members. The former minister
spent nearly one year in prison after his arrest in 2011.
M Kanimozhi, the daughter of DMK chief M Karunanidhi, told NDTV:
"Justice has prevailed."
The "2G" trial began in 2011, a year after the
national auditor said in its report that there had been massive irregularities
in the allocation of second generation or 2G licences when Mr Raja was
minister. The auditor said licences were given to telecom operators in
2007-2008 at throwaway prices without a free and fair bidding process.
Top Congress leaders called the verdict a vindication of the
party-led government. "Our zero loss theory on 2G spectrum allocation has
been vindicated," said former minister Kapil Sibal.
Named along with Mr Raja in the scandal were the promoters and
top executives of some of India's best-known telecoms including the one
owned by Anil Ambani's conglomerate.
The CBI had alleged that a 200-crore bribe paid by a telecom
operator to Mr Raja was deposited in a TV channel in Chennai that is owned in
part by Kanimozhi, the daughter of DMK chief M Karunanidhi.
Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited M Karunanidhi
at his home in Chennai in a surprise move. The timing was crucial. Political
parties have been speculating whether the house call was intended to signal
that the DMK is not a pariah for the BJP, which has been exploring avenues to
expand its slim presence in Tamil Nadu.
The 2G scam was among the major corruption scandals that came to
light during the second term of Dr Manmohan Singh's coalition government.
same judge earlier this year acquitted Dayanidhi Maran, another DMK leader who
was Mr Raja's predecessor as Telecom Minister, of corruption during his term.
Mr Maran had been accused by the CBI of misusing his office to force the sale
of mobile carrier Aircel to an entrepreneur in Malaysia in exchange for a bribe
that was disguised as an investment of 200 crores in a media empire owned by
the minister's brother.