A special court on Thursday acquitted former telecom minister A Raja, DMK leader Kanimozhi and 17 others in the Enforcement Directorate's money laundering case relating to the 2G spectrum scam.
Special Judge OP Saini also acquitted Shahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka, Asif Balwa, Rajiv Aggarwal, Karim Morani, P Amirtham and Sharad Kumar in connection with the case.
The alleged scam on the issuance of licences and allocation of 2G spectrum by the Department of Telecom occurred during the Congress-led UPA government's first tenure in 2008 but was widely reported in 2010 following a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
As it happened:
06:26 pm: Former Telecom Minister A. Raja says, 'the entire case was cooked up,' on being asked if he feels let down by Congress & UPA he said, 'that we will see later.'
06:24 pm: A Raja says presumptive loss in 2G spectrum allocation was 'cooked-up'; vested interests manipulated public perception.
05:40 pm: Will be taking necessary legal remedies in the matter: In due course, we will be filing an appeal: Central Bureau of Investigation
03:53 pm: It has been derailed, but it can be put back on track again provided we have honest law officers and lawyers who don't do 'chamchagiri' of ministers: Subramanian Swamy
03:35 pm: This is not a setback at all, its an aberration as the law officers were not serious on fighting against corruption. So I hope the PM takes lesson from this.We must now fight corruption on war footing: Subramanian Swamy
03:33 pm: Former AG Mukul Rohatgi has welcomed this verdict, I had written to PM opposing his appointment as AG. Rohatgi had appeared for some of accused companies: Subramanian Swamy
03:31 pm: Judge says earlier there was a lot of enthusiasm, but later it became worse and worse. Judge also said counsels were lackadaisical. This is a big condemnation of the Govt's controlling of the case: Subramanian Swamy
03:30 pm: Today's judgment is a very bad judgement, this must be appealed in higher court: Subramanian Swamy
03:29 pm: Congress is looking for excuses to cover up their fault. What does it have to say about the auctions which were done then? If Congress thinks this is a certificate to their corruption, then congratulations to them: Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan
2:34 pm: Today's judgement has been prima facie examined and it appears that evidence adduced to substantiate charges by the prosecution has not been appreciated in its proper perspective by the learned court. CBI will be taking necessary legal remedies in the matter: CBI
2:00 pm: A Raja reaches his residence in Delhi post acquittal in #2GScamVerdict , DMK supporters seen celebrating
1:55 pm: Justice has won, this is what M Karunanidhi had also said, opposition and media had put in all efforts to malign us in this case, all has been proved wrong: MK Stalin
12:50 pm: Tamil Nadu: DMK supporters distribute sweets in celebration in Coimbatore after the acquittal of all the accused in 2G scam verdict by Delhi's Patiala House Court.
12:45 pm: Prosecution's main argument was on clause 8, it is a civil issue.It was never an issue of criminality, this is what court also held. All the people of the industry who were accused have suffered enough, licenses cancelled, they were also unable to travel abroad: Mukul Rohatgi,former Attorney General
12:40 pm: We are very happy that justice has prevailed. It is a big day for the DMK family. It is an answer to all the blames & the problems we faced: Kanimozhi after her acquittal
12:35 pm: Text from paragraph number of 1817 and 1818 of full order:
“There is no evidence on the record produced before the Court indicating any criminality in the acts allegedly committed by the accused persons relating to fixation of cutoff date, manipulation of firstcome firstserved policy, allocation of spectrum to dual technology applicants, ignoring ineligibility of STPL and Unitech group companies, nonrevision of entry fee and transfer of Rs. 200 crore to Kalaignar TV (P) Limited as illegal gratification.
“The charge sheet of the instant case is based mainly on misreading, selective reading, nonreading and out of context reading of the official record. Further, it is based on some oral statements made by the witnesses during investigation, which the witnesses have not owned up in the witnessbox.
“Lastly, if statements were made orally by the witnesses, the same were contrary to the official record and thus, not acceptable in law.
“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.”
12:25 pm: The acquittal of all the accused by the special court has brought happiness to us. The verdict further proves that there was no wrong done. All this has been proved: MK Stalin, DMK Working President
12:24 pm: Each and every case of spectrum allocation was quashed by SC (in 2012) as arbitrary and unfair, the policy was quashed as unfair & intended to cause loss to GoI and the govt was directed to have a fresh policy by which an auction would take place: Arun Jaitley
2:22 pm: Congress leaders are treating this judgement as some kind of a badge of honor and a certification that it was an honest policy: Arun Jaitley
12:20 pm: This was a corrupt and dishonest policy, which has already been upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012: Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister
12:05 pm: Former PM Manmohan Singh says, 'the court judgement has to be respected. I'm glad that the court has pronounced that the massive propaganda against UPA was without any foundation.'
12:02 pm: We're relieved of the huge tension we had. What kept us going was that we knew all along that Law of the land will be upheld. We knew that if there will be a fair trial it will give us the justice: Hussain Balwa, brother of Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa
12:02 pm: All acquitted in the case will have to furnish a bail bond of Rs. 5 lakhs each. This is done to ensure their presence in a higher appellate court if the verdict is challenged.
11:46 am: DMK supporters were seen bursting fire crackers outside the court complex and showered Raja and Kanimozhi with flowers as soon as they stepped out of court.
11:45 am: 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.
11:34 am: It was a false case. For the past 2 assembly elections, the case was used against us, now it has been proved to be wrong: RS Bharathi, DMK
11:23 am: Clearly the court found that innocent people have been wronged. Justice has worked as it is supposed to work in our country: Shashi Tharoor, Congress
11:20 am: We are waiting for copy of the judgement. We will take legal opinion on it after that: CBI
11:17 am: Ruckus broke out in the Upper House as Opposition MPs raised slogans in the den after the 2G verdict
11:15 am: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, on whose PIL CBI probe was ordered in 2G case, says government should appeal in high court against acquittals.
11:10 am: Congress leader Kapil Sibal said that Congress stands vindicated, BJP must apologise. "We will raise the issue in Rajya Sabha," he said. (Read full story here)
11:07 am: I would love to thank everyone who stood by me: Kanimozhi, Rajya Sabha MP
11:06 am: Victory begins now. With political motives this case was put in us. Conspiracies were hatched against us but all have been blown away now: Durai Murugan, Senior DMK Leader
11:06 am: The court said that there was no evidence available against any of the accused.
11:05 am: The judge first pronounced the judgement in the cases lodged by the CBI and the ED against Raja and others. After these accused vacated the court room, the promoters of Essar Group and Loop Telecom along with one other accused who were facing trial in the case arising out of the 2G spectrum scam probe entered the court room after which the judge pronounced a separate order.
11:02 am: P Chidambaram, who was finance minister in UPA government when the alleged scam broke out, said, "The charge of a big scam with the involvement of top people in the government was never true."
11:00 am: Court said that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove any of its charge. Thus all accused are acquitted: Vijay Aggarwal, Lawyer of Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa, Vinod Goenka and others
10:50 am: Court acquitted all accused in one-line verdict in one of the most anticipated judgements in India.
10:47 am: Former Telecom Minister and DMK leader A Raja acquitted in 2G spectrum allocation scam case by Delhi Court. Other 16 accused including DMK leader Kanimozhi and three companies acquitted in the case.
10:40 am: Overcrowding outside Patiala House Court delays proceedings. over 500 DMK men present despite heavy security
10:00 am: Ex Telecom Minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi arrive in Delhi court ahead of pronouncement of verdict in 2G scam cases.
The court on Thursday gave verdict on three separate cases, in first CBI had charge sheeted 14 individuals and three companies; second CBI charge sheet had names of eight individuals and five companies and third charge sheet filed by ED had named total 19 defendants. All charges were dismissed in absence of incriminatory evidence.
In the first case filed by the CBI, Raja and Kanimozhi were facing trial along with former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, The court had in October 2011 framed charges against them under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, using as genuine fake documents, abusing official position, criminal misconduct by public servant and taking bribe.
In its charge sheet filed in April 2011 against Raja and others, 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.
In the case involving promoters of Essar Group, Loop Telecom and Saraf, three companies—Loop Telecom Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Tele Holding Ltd (ETHL) -- were also named by the CBI in its charge sheet. While the court had charged them with the offence under section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) read with section 420 (cheating) of IPC, substantial charge of cheating was made out against Saraf. The CBI had named them in its charge sheet on December 12, 2011, alleging they had cheated the Department of Telecommunication by using Loop Telecom as a “front” to secure 2G licences in 2008.
In its final report, the ED had named 10 individuals and nine companies as accused and listed them in the charge sheet for the offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The list included Raja, Kanimozhi, Shahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka, Asif Balwa, Rajiv Aggarwal, Karim Morani, P Amirtham and Sharad Kumar in connection with the case. In its charge sheet, the ED had also named DMK supremo M Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal as an accused in the case in which it had alleged that Rs 200 crore was paid by STPL promoters to DMK-run Kalaignar TV.