NEW DELHI: The most high-profile corruption in India in decades came to a dramatic end on Thursday. With one line, a special court in New Delhi acquitted all the individuals accused in the 2G spectrum scam case. The acquittals covered all 19 individuals accused - including former Union Telecom Minister A Raja and Rajya Sabha MP K Kanimozhi - in three cases.
"I have absolutely no hesitation in holding that prosecution has miserably failed to prove any charge against any accused," said CBI Judge OP Saini in the operative line of the judgment. The special court pronounced the verdict in the three cases - two by the CBI and one by the Enforcement Directorate.
The blanket acquittals are dramatic since the Supreme Court had in February 2012 cancelled the 2G telecom licences issued under the process. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had initially estimated that irregularities in the spectrum allocation process had caused presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore. The CBI's prosecution had then set the loss at Rs 30,000 crore.
The verdict is a massive relief for not just the DMK and its leaders Raja and Kanimozhi, but also for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of the time. The UPA's second term was bogged down by the allegations. Even the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, had come under the scanner.
The verdict brought out immediate demands for apologies by a whole range of officials and parties, including the then CAG Vinod Rai and opposition parties who capitalised on the charges to hand massive defeats to UPA allies in elections across the country.
Raja, a lawyer by profession, has said he would react to the verdict only after going through the 2,000-page order of the court.
Kanimozhi, daughter of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, however was visibly relieved. "I would love to thank everyone who stood by me," she said to reporters outside the Patiala House court where the verdict was delivered.
The CBI, whose efforts were sharply rebuked by Justice Saini, said, "We are waiting for copy of the judgement. We will take legal opinion on it after that."
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who had impleaded himself in the case, said the CBI should appeal against the verdict.
Others acquitted in the case are former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja's erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra and three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG) -- Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair.
Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV director Sharad Kumar and Bollywood producer Karim Morani are also acquitted in the case.
Besides them, three telecom firms -- Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd (STPL), Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd -- are also accused and acquitted in the case.