Framing charges against former communications minister A. Raja and 13 arrested accused in the 2G case, a special court here Saturday made it clear that loss to the exchequer is not a necessary condition for prosecution of the accused.
“…you all committed an offence punishable under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 409 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for cheating) and 471 (forgery) and 193 (punishment for false evidence) of the Indian Penal Code… and offence under Section 7 or in alternative Section 11 read with Section 12 and 13(2) read with 13 (1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act is made out against all 17 accused,” said the Central Bureau of Investigation Special Judge O.P. Saini.
The court declined all the accused’s submission that they had not caused loss to government and said: “A bare look at section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act makes it clear that loss to the state exchequer is not a necessary condition for prosecution of the accused for the offence.”
The court also declined the accused’s argument that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its report showed no loss to the government.
“My attention has been drawn to Aug 19, TRAI report that has stated that the state exchequer has not suffered any loss. For the reason referred to above, no observation is required to be made on this point. The submission, as such, is without merit, both in law as well as in fact,” said the judge.
The court charged Raja for criminal breach of trust, bribery, forgery and cheating in the controversial allocation of mobile phone spectrum.
Along with Raja, DMK leader and MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi was also charged with criminal conspiracy and criminal breach of trust. If convicted, while Raja could face a maximum sentence of life in prison, Kanimozhi could also face prison term.
Identical charges were also framed against Raja’s former aide R.K. Chandolia and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura. The case, entrusted to the premier probe agency and involving award of scarce airwaves to new telecom players in a booming industry in 2007-08, went on to be known commonly as the 2G (second-generation spectrum allocation) case.
“The allegation are that bribe of Rs.200 crore was paid in consideration of grant of spectrum to Swan Telecom, a company made accused in the case, which was received by Kalignar TV on behalf of accused Raja of which accused Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar are partners,” the court said.
“For this reason alone, it is not necessary that a definite amount of loss to the state exchequer be indicated at the time of framing of charges,” the court added.
All the 14 individuals accused in the case are in judicial custody and lodged in Tihar Jail.
The court also said that though exact amount of pecuniary loss to the state exchequer, if it could have been determined, was always better, but in such cases, it may not be possible to determine it or to say that any pecuniary loss had been caused to the nation, though it may be apparent that undue pecuniary advantage had been gained by public servant or private person due to misuse of office or due to corrupt or illegal means, it said.
On loss and prosecution, the judge said that loss or quantification of loss in exact terms was not the essential requirements of offence of misconduct. No law had been brought to my notice in this regard.
The court’s remark assumes significance in light of the divergent views on the exact loss to the exchequer in the scam. While CAG pegged the loss at Rs.1.76 lakh crore, the CBI estimated it at Rs.30,984 crore and a recent TRAI report said no loss was caused due to the alleged irregularities.