CBI moves Delhi HC over acquittal in 2G spectrum case

New Delhi: The CBI on Tuesday moved an appeal in Delhi High Court challenging a special court order acquitting former Telecom Minister A. Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and others in the 2G spectrum money laundering case.

The appeal was presented before a bench of High Court’s Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta.

The court allowed the matter to be listed for hearing on Wednesday.

The central agency’s move came a day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing financial irregularities in the case and assisting the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), filed an appeal against the special court’s December 21, 2017, judgement in the case.

The CBI questioned the special court’s verdict ignoring the findings of the Supreme Court that has been keeping a regular tab on the investigation until the chargesheet was filed in the case.

The agency said it appealed to the high court as the evidence adduced to substantiate the charges by the prosecution was not appreciated in its proper perspective by the special court.

“The court also failed on the point in which the crime is defined under Section 2(1)(u), which considers only the criminal activity instead of commission of an offence,” the CBI said.

While announcing the judgement, special judge O.P. Saini said the CBI and the ED had failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove the charges against 33 persons named in the case.

The matter is believed to have contributed to the Congress-led UPA’s electoral loss in 2014.

Besides Raja and Kanimozhi, the special court had also acquitted 17 others, including DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal, Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka of STPL, Asif Balwa and Rajiv Aggarwal of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd, film producer Karim Morani, and P. Amirtham and Sharad Kumar of Kalaignar TV.

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 — were also acquitted by the special court.

The ED in its chargesheet had alleged that Rs 2 billion was paid by Swan Telecom (P) Ltd (STPL) promoters to the DMK-run Kalaignar TV.

The CBI had alleged that there was a loss of Rs 309.84 billion to the exchequer in allocation of licences for the 2G spectrum which were scrapped by the top court on February 2, 2012.

The special court, which was set up on March 14, 2011 for hearing 2G cases exclusively, had also acquitted Essar Group promoters Ravi Kant Ruia and Anshuman Ruia and six others in a separate case arising out of the 2G scam probe.

The first case, prosecuted by the CBI, had 17 accused, while the second, pursued by the Enforcement Directorate, had 19 undertrials. The third case had eight accused, including the Essar promoters.