All accused in 2G scam case acquitted

AGENCIES NEW DELHI, 21st Dec:

A Special CBI court on Thursday acquitted former telecom minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and all other accused in the 2G scam case that had rocked the Manmohan Singh-led UPA-II government, holding that the prosecution "miserably failed" to prove any of the corruption and money laundering charges.

The stunning verdict came as an anti-climax in a case that had been repeatedly highlighted by the BJP during the 2014 general election campaign as the hallmark of corruption in the then UPA regime. The BJP turned the arbitrary award of radio frequency to telecom providers into a major political issue and put the UPA-II government on the mat.

"I have absolutely no hesitation in holding that prosecution has miserably failed to prove any of the charges against any of the accused," Special CBI Judge O P Saini said in his verdicts in three separate cases related to the 2G scam in a packed courtroom at the Patiala House premises.

Dealing a body blow to the CAG's and CBI's estimation of huge loss in grant of 2G licences, judge Saini in his 1,552- page verdict in the main CBI case held that some people "artfully" arranged few selected facts and created a scam "when there was none". In all, there were 17 accused, including Raja and Kanimozhi, both leaders of Congress ally DMK, in this case that also included three corporate entities.

The three judgements, which together ran into 2,183 pages, included the one that stemmed out of the Enforcement Directorate (ED)'s money laundering case.

The ED and the CBI said they will challenge before the Delhi High Court the verdicts, which also unleashed a political slugfest between the BJP and the Opposition. There were 19 accused in the ED chargesheet some of whom figured in the CBI chargesheet filed in its main and offshoot case.

Buoyed by the verdicts, the Congress and the DMK said "truth" has finally prevailed and that justice has been delivered while the ruling party asked the Congress not to treat them as a "badge of honour".

The Congress demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and other BJP leaders apologise to the nation for their alleged "propaganda and lies" on the issue.

Manmohan Singh said the court judgement needs to be respected as it has "pronounced that the massive propaganda" unleashed against his government was without any foundation. "Will all those people, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and other BJP leaders, who for years made false propaganda and lies their stepping stone to come to power, apologise to the country?" asked Congress communications incharge Randeep Surjewala. "Today is the day for fixing accountability and responsibility."

In a counterattack, Finance minister Arun Jaitley said the Congress should not treat the 2G verdict as a "badge of honour." The party's "zero loss theory" was proved wrong when the apex court squashed spectrum allocation in 2012, he added.

A number of supporters of DMK leaders Raja and Kanimozhi, who were anxiously waiting outside the jam-packed court room, broke into loud cheers as soon as the verdict was pronounced.


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