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Pronouncing its verdict in the so-called Rs 1.76-lakh-crore 2G spectrum scam, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court of judge O P Saini on Thursday acquitted all the 17 accused, including former telecom minister Andimuthu Raja, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) member Kanimozhi, as the prosecution failed to prove the case against them. Judge O P Saini said in the court on Thursday: "I have no hesitation in saying that the public prosecutor miserably failed to prove the case against the accused." The others acquitted in the case are former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura, Raja's erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Managing Director Sanjay Chandra, three top executives of the Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) -- Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair -- Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV director Sharad Kumar, and Bollywood producer Karim Morani. Also, three telecom firms -- Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd (STPL), Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd -- were acquitted on Thursday. In its charge sheet filed in April 2011 against Raja and others, the CBI had alleged that there was a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of 122 licences for 2G spectrum which were scrapped by the Supreme Court on February 2, 2012. All the accused facing trial in these cases had denied allegations levelled against them by the CBI and the ED. While the CBI court looked into the fraud and conspiracy angle in the 2G spectrum scam case, the Supreme Court had in February 2012 cancelled 122 telecom licences, including those of Loop Telecom, Swan Telecom and Unitech.
Some entities of top corporate groups, such as Tata Teleservices, Idea Cellular and Videocon Telecom had also lost lucrative wireless licences following the court order. ALSO READ: 2G verdict: How SC, CAG moves triggered telecom consolidation, debt The case relates to the 2G spectrum allocation done in 2008 by the department of telecommunications (DoT), under the communications and information technology (IT) ministry led by A Raja. The ‘first-come-first-served’ policy used as the method for allocation of valuable airwaves had drawn severe criticism from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India – then headed by Vinod Rai – which had pegged the total loss to the exchequer on account of the sale of spectrum below rightful price at Rs 1.76 lakh crore. Later, in December 2010, the Supreme Court had castigated Raja for bypassing and overruling the advice of the then prime minister, Manmohan Singh, that the allocation of 2G spectrum be deferred by a few days. In February 2011, Raja, Behura and Chandolia had been arrested for their faulty policy causing a loss to the Indian government. In its 2012 verdict, the Supreme Court had made it clear that all government resources, including the spectrum used by mobile phone companies to offer services, should be sold via the auction route in future. The CBI today said it would file an appeal against the 2G scam case verdict by a special court, which acquitted all the 16 accused rejecting the case presented by the agency. The agency, which normally takes months to "study" court orders before proceeding to file an appeal in higher court, declared within hours of the verdict that "it has been prima facie examined". "The judgement relating to the 2G scam case of today has been prima facie examined and it appears that the evidence adduced to substantiate the charges by the prosecution has not been appreciated in its proper perspective by the learned court. The CBI will be taking necessary legal remedies in the matter," CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said. Asked whether an appeal would be filed in the Delhi High Court challenging the verdict, the spokesperson replied in the affirmative. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also decided to appeal against the judgement of the special court that acquitted 19 people in the 2G spectrum allocation money laundering case. ED officials said the agency would study the order and knock on the doors of the high court armed with their evidence and investigation. The officials said it has to be seen if the ED case has been rejected by the court merely because the predicate offence probe of the CBI has been rejected or there were other reasons to do so.