New Delhi: Finance Minister P Chidambaram today got a huge relief from the Supreme Court which cleared him of all charges in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, giving a quietus to attempts by Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy to make him an accused in the case.
In a judgement that also came as a relief for the govenrment in its current troubled times, the court dismissed the plea for a CBI inquiry against Chidambaram saying that there was no material to establish that he abused his official position as the then Finance Minister.
Nor had he conspired or colluded with former Telecom Minister A Raja to obtain any pecuniary advantage for himself or any other persons, it held.
A bench of justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan said there was no prima facie material to suggest that Chidambaram deliberately allowed dilution of equity of the two companies, i.E. Swan Telecom Pvt and Unitech Ltd, which are chargesheeted in the case.
While Chidambaram refused to comment on the verdict, Swamy complained it was a bad judgement and that he would file a review petition.
Congress party and several ministers hailed the judgement saying it had vindicated the position of Chidambaram and the government but Opposition parties said still the government was politically and morally accountable for the 2G scam.
However, while absolving Chidambaram of criminal culpability in spectrum allocation and pricing, the bench observed that "poor management" and "inaccurate decision" by itself cannot be said to be a product of criminal conspiracy.
The court passed the order on petitions filed by Janata
Party chief Subramanian Swamy and an NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) challenging the February 4 judgement of the Special CBI Court giving clean chit to Chidambaram in the 2G spectrum scam.
Today's order of the Supreme Court puts the stamp of approval on the Feb 4 judgement of the Special CBI Judge O P Saini, who had held that Chidambaram had not indulged in any criminal conspiracy or derived any pecuniary advantage in the decisions taken withRaja.
"We are, therefore, of the considered opinion that no case is made out to interfere with the February 4 order passed by Special Judge CBI or to grant reliefs prayed for in the application and Special Leave Petition is, therefore, not entertained, and they are accordingly stand rejected," the apex court bench said in its 59-page judgement.
After going through the records, the bench said that Chidambaram cannot be indicted for criminal conspiracy in the scam because of his meetings with main accused Raja and DoT officials over the issue of price fixation for 2G spectrum.
"Criminal conspiracy cannot be inferred on the mere fact that there were official discussions between the officers of the MoF and that of DoT and between two Ministers, which are all recorded.
"Suspicion, however, strong, cannot take the place of legal proof and the meeting between Chidambaram and Raja would not by itself be sufficient to infer the existence of a criminal conspiracy so as to indict him," the bench said.
On government's strategy to deal with the coal issue, Chidambaram said, "our strategy has been largely determined by one word - patience. We have been extremely patient".
He said Prime Minister's statement on the issue is ready and added: "If you demand the Prime Minister's resignation, then I don't think you can demand any thing more. They (BJP) have pitched the demand so high ...Demanding the Prime Minister's resignation. They should show the Prime Minister the courtesy to listen to his statement".
If the Prime Minister is not allowed to make a statement in Parliament on Monday, the government, Chidambaram said, "will have to find a way how Prime Minister can speak to the people. We are making a small attempt to speak to the people through the media.
"We are disappointed that the opposition especially the BJP is unwilling to allow Parliament to function and unwilling to discuss the matter on the floor of the House," he added.
The government, Chidambaram said, "is willing to debate and discuss any subject including the CAG report in Parliament... We have said the PM is willing to make a statement in Parliament either to initiate a debate or in the course of the debate and is fully prepared to answer all the questions that may arise out of the statement".
The government is not running away from debate, he said, regretting, "it is a sad depiction of Parliamentary democracy ...We cannot say these things on the floor of the House, we have to create a platform to bring facts to public domain".
On reports about mass resignation by BJP MPs, Chidambaram said, "I think this was a trial baloon floated by a section of the BJP and ... This was punctured by the rest of the BJP."
First Published: Friday, August 24, 2012, 09:20