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'The prosecution miserably failed': Highlights of the 2G judgment

Here are the highlights of the CBI Special Court's verdict in the so-called 2G scam

BS Web Team 

Former Telecom minister A Raja waves at his supporters after he was acquitted by a special court in the 2G scam case, in New Delhi
Former telecom minister A Raja after being acquitted by a special CBI court in the 2G case, in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

The special court of justice O P Saini on Thursday gave its verdict in the so-called 2G scam, and acquitted all the accused, including former telecom minister and Rajya Sabha MP, M K Kanimojhi. The court made some strong observations in its 1,522 page judgment. Here are some of the highlights of the judgment: On the role of officers in DoT

From the perusal of material on record, it is clear that most of the mess in the DoT, in the matter of processing of applications for UASL, and grant of licences was created by the officers. It is the result of their lack of sense of responsibility and clarity about the way official business is to be conducted. Not only this, most of the officers have exhibited fickle mindedness and timidity by disowning the written official record. They even disowned the record prepared by them and tried to shift the blame to others by making oral statements contrary to official record.
On the question of A. Raja parking Rs 200 crore in Kalaignar TV (P) Ltd
The prosecution introduced the word “quid pro quo” for the first time in the crossexamination of Sh. A. Raja. In the entire prosecution evidence it was nowhere suggested to any witness that the transfer of Rs. 200 crore was an illegal gratification and that the four entities had concealed its identity to give it a colour of regular business transaction. The terse or if I may say so, NIL crossexamination by the prosecution of Sh. A. Raja indicates that it had no worthwhile evidence against him with which it could nail him. The nature of crossexamination of Sh. A. Raja on this point is indicative of total lack of evidence against him. Hence, there is no merit in the submission of the prosecution that Sh. A. Raja was involved in parking of money in Kalaignar TV (P) Limited. In the end, I have no hesitation in holding that there is absolutely no material on record to link Sh. A. Raja with the abovesaid transfer of Rs. 200 crore to Kalaignar TV (P) Limited. In such a situation, transaction of money between these entities cannot be designated as payment of illegal gratification for the official acts of Sh. A. Raja, that is, for favours shown by him to STPL in the matter of grant of UAS licences and allocation of spectrum. Accordingly, prosecution case is without merit.
On the prosecution's assertion about circumstantial evidence
Prosecution also put up a case that in such a case of high level political corruption, there cannot be any direct evidence, either oral or documentary. It is their case that in such a situation, the matter has to be judged from the circumstantial evidence alone as available on record. It is correct that there can hardly be any direct evidence, oral or documentary, in the case of high political corruption. It is also correct that in such cases, things have to be inferred from the circumstances of the case. But it is also correct that people cannot be held guilty without evidence or evidence which is not legally admissible. However, in the instant case, witnesses were in the witnessbox and they could have explained all the circumstances. All these circumstances spring from the evidence on record and are capable of explanation.

Prosecution must have afforded an opportunity to the witnesses to explain the deficiencies in the documents, but it remained silent at that time and is now endeavouring hard at the bar to condemn the witnesses and documents executed by them, behind their back. These things must have been put to the witnesses.

On this being a case of high political corruption
On the urging of learned Spl. PP that instant case is a case of high political corruption, I have endeavoured hard to persuade myself to take an expansive and liberal view of the prosecution case. However, in view of deficient, or I may say nil evidence on record, I find myself unimpressed and unmoved, whatever may be nature of the case. High profile nature of a case cannot be used as a ground for holding people guilty without legal evidence. Lack of commercial prudence in execution of documents cannot be used as a ruse to hold people guilty of corruption. The transaction was between private entities and in a private entity rate of interest, execution of securities, due diligence etc., depend upon risk aversion or risk friendly attitude of the persons concerned. Objectivity and rationality are not always hallmark of private commerce. It is a common knowledge that there is a lot of subjectivity in this field and nothing is standardized. In case of close relations between the parties, risk mitigation procedures can be lowered or even can be given complete goby. Lack of these attributes in a transaction may, in a specific circumstance, indicate wrongdoing but for criminalizing them specific evidence is always required. These assume significance only when matched with proper connecting evidence, which is lacking in this case. Prosecution cannot absolve itself of its burden to prove its case by piggyriding on the so called high magnitude of the case and media hype. The trope of high magnitude of crime does not work at the final stage of the case. At the final stage, legally admissible evidence is required.
On representations made by various public personalities in the court, the judgement says
It is also to be noted that there are many representations on record made by various prominent public spirited persons before various Authorities relating to wrongdoing in the instant case. However, none of them also volunteered to enter the witnessbox. What does all this mean? Apparently this means that nobody had any good or first hand material in his possession. The fate of the case thus depended upon witnesses from DoT and from the companies of the accused. The witnesses from DoT were either highly guarded, and if I may say so hesitant, in their deposition, and also went against official record rendering themselves unreliable. Witnesses from the companies of the accused also did not support the prosecution version.
The judge adds:
I may also add that for the last about seven years, on all working days, summer vacation included, I religiously sat in the open Court from 10 AM to 5 PM, awaiting for someone with some legally admissible evidence in his possession, but all in vain. Not a single soul turned up. This indicates that everybody was going by public perception created by rumour, gossip and speculation. However, public perception has no place in judicial proceedings.
About the ineffective prosecution:
In the beginning, the prosecution started with the case with great enthusiasm and ardour. However, as the case progressed, it became highly cautious and guarded in its attitude making it difficult to find out as to what prosecution wanted to prove. However, by the end, the quality of prosecution totally deteriorated and it became directionless and diffident. However, in the latter and also in the final phase of the trial, no senior officer or prosecutor was willing to sign these applications or replies and the same used to be signed by a junior most officer Inspector Manoj Kumar posted in the Court This shows that neither any investigator nor any prosecutor was willing to take any responsibility for what was being filed or said in the Court. Not only this, the most painful part is that learned Spl. PP was not ready to sign the written submissions filed by him. What is the use of a document in a Court of law, which is not signed by anyone?
The court concludes
I may add that many facts recorded in the charge sheet are factually incorrect, like Finance Secretary strongly recommending revision of entry fee, deletion of a clause of draft LOI by Sh. A. Raja, Recommendations of TRAI for revision of entry fee etc. The end result of the above discussion is that, I have absolutely no hesitation in holding that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove any charge against any of the accused, made in its well choreographed charge sheet. Accordingly, all accused are entitled to be acquitted and are acquitted

First Published: Thu, December 21 2017. 16:17 IST