ACQUITTED: DMK member Kanimozhi and former telecom minister A Raja can heave sighs of relief now

The special judge OP Saini in his verdict has ruled that there was no scam involved in the allotment in 2G spectrums. Not necessarily because everyone was innocent, but because the CBI, the prosecuting agency, was not interested in proving anybody guilty. Just as nobody killed Arushi and Francis Pereira did not desecrate any churches or temples, apparently nobody stole 2G spectrums

By Rajan Narayan

NO ONE killed Arushi. Her parents who were accused of an honour killing were acquitted. No one killed Hemant the servant who is alleged to have had a relationship with Arushi and was found murdered on the terrace of the dentist couple. No one desecrated the crosses and temples of Goa. Francis boy Pereira has been acquitted in the majority of the cases filed against him by the Goa police anxious to find a scape goat. Similarly in the 2G case neither A Raja, the telecom minister in the Manmohan Singh government, nor Kanimozhi, daughter of Karunanidhi, the former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, committed any crime.

The special CBI Court which gave its verdict insists that there is no evidence to convict A Raja, whose induction into the cabinet itself was controversial, going by the notorious Radia tapes which claim that top industrialists like Ratan TATA and Anil Ambani lobbied to make Raja the telecom minister in the Manmohan Singh cabinet. The media is also alleged to have been involved. When the comptroller and auditor general of the country, Vinod Rai, claimed that A Raja had broken and bent the rules for allocation of spectrum causing the loss of several lakhs of crore rupees, the UPA government was put in the dock. In fact during the 2014 election the main bullets fired against the Congress was their involvement in the mega 2G scam. But now the CBI court judge insists that there is no proof of wrong doing by the Telecom Ministry.

The charges against Kanimozhi was that `200 crores of kick back meant for Raja had been diverted to Kalaignar TV which was owned by the family of M Karunanidhi, the patriarch of the DMK. In retrospect, the CBI itself admits that it had mixed up the mother for the daughter. Kanimozhi was not only arrested but spent over six months in jail for the CBI committing a mistake. She was arrested because she was the director of the family television station. But at the time the alleged bribe was given, it was a mother and not she who was the director. Despite which the mother of a eleven year old son had to bear the trauma of being called a chor and being shunned by family and friends. Even the son was shamed in school because of the incident.

Many companies were implicated in the 2G scam. In fact when the matter came up before the Supreme Court it had cancelled the licenses of over 100 companies which had applied for broadband spectrum. Among the industrialists who were put in the dock were Ratan Tata and Anil Ambani. For reasons best known to the CBI, they converted Anil Ambani into a witness for the prosecution. When the matter came up in court Anil Ambani claimed to be suffering from a loss of memory. Indeed he refused to recognise his own handwriting. The special judge of CBI court O.P Saini destroyed the case of the prosecution, namely the CBI, charge by charge. The judge ruled that there was no evidence to prove that Unitech and Swan Telecom, which was a front for Reliance, were favoured by A Raja. The judge said that there was no evidence that Sahid Balwa of the DB group, who also owns a property on which the Grand Hyatt is located, knew A Raja. Though the CBI had claimed that Balwa had visited Raja several time it could not provide any proof. The special judge also acquitted SR group promoters Ravikant Ruhiya and Anshuman Ruhiya.

In conclusion the CBI special judge OP Saini is reported to have said “a huge scam was seen by everyone when there was none. The judge pointed out that he had ben seating at the court for six years from 10 to 5, including vacations, looking for any legally admissible evidence to prove the charges against the accused. According to the judge the prosecution  namely the CBI has not and did not seem interested in proving a single charge.

We cannot conclude from the verdict of the special judge that there was no 2G scam — a scam which allegedly revolved around arbitrary allotment of spectrums violating the principle of both auction and first come, first serve. We cannot conclude that the politicians who have been acquitted did not commit any crime. We cannot conclude that the companies which were accused of bribing the telecom minister, and even influencing cabinet formation to make sure that A Raja became the telecom minister, were innocent. We can only conclude that the CBI which apparently show a great enthusiasm over prosecuting the case suddenly lost interest after the BJP came to power. We cannot blame the judge because he acts on the evidence put before him. What does the judge do when a star witness like Anil Ambani denies all the charges against the minister, his own employees and claims that he has a lapse of memory.

This is not the first time that cases are being dismissed because the prosecution did not do it job. It may seem unusual or strange that the BJP government which came to power due to the presumption that the Congress was very corrupt due to the 2G scam should be a party to dilution of the prosecution case against those allegedly guilty in the 2G spectrum scam.

The plain truth is that neither the UPA government led by Sonia Gandhi nor the Modi-led BJP government wants to antagonise some of the top industrialists in the country including the Ruias and the Ambanis. Particularly when the economy is in bad shape and the government is desperate to generate jobs so that voters will start believing that vikas has finally come.

The causality in the 2G scam at the Centre, as well as in several cases in which politicians who were found guilty by lower courts were acquitted by higher courts, is very long. The lucky politicians include the late Jayalalithaa who was not only convicted in the disproportionate assets case but spent almost a year in jail. Subsequently she was acquitted by the Supreme Court but she could not enjoy her reprieve as she died under mysterious circumstances.

Curiously Narendra Modi is reported to have paid a visit to the DMK boss M Karunanidhi just before the special court announced its verdict. Lalu Prasad Yadav was another chief minister who was forced to step down after he was convicted in the `800 crore fodder scam. He was acquitted by the higher court in one of the cases filed in the fodder scam. Unfortunately for him he is back in jail because he was convicted in another case filed in relation to the fodder scam.

There have been charges against dozens of politicians in Goa for abusing and misusing their office when they were ministers. There are still charges pending against Mauvin Godhinho who defected to the BJP from Congress and was made a minister. Ironically in his case it was Manohar Parrikar himself who had filed the original complaint in the power theft case. There are cases pending against former speaker Dayanand Narvekar for taking cricket fans for a ride. There is a case pending against the former chairman of IDC and Congress leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Chandrakant Kavlekar. There are cases pending against not only Joaquim Alemao, but against Digambar Kamat and Pratapsingh Rane related to the mining scam. There are serious cases against Babush Monserrate also.

It would be logical to presume that when the BJP is in power it will vigorously follow up cases of corruption against Congress politicians. Similarly when the Congress in power it will actively pursue cases against the rival party. But what do you do when politicians play games of musical chairs. Vishwajit, who was in the congress party is now with the BJP. So is Mauvin Godinho and Pratapsingh Rane who have been indicted in the mining scam.

In a era of coalition governments and political opportunism you never know who will be with which party. So as long as the politicians have no morals they will protect each other and politicians of all parties will protect the industrialists who fund the election campaigns of all party. Which is why nobody killed Jessica or Arushi. And why nobody is guilty in what was projected as the biggest scam since independence — namely the 2G scam.

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