2G scam verdict doesn't exonerate UPA govt's policies of spectrum giveaway: Rajeev Chandrasekhar
10 years ago in 2007 as a rookie MP, I had drawn then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s attention to the rot and scam around Spectrum allocation in the Telecom sector. Perhaps because I was a lone independent voice in Parliament – my views and warnings were brushed aside and the 2G Scam train rolled on with nary a pause or change in direction. Most media commentary supported the UPAs strange First come, First serve way of allocating spectrum – where dubious companies with no telecom experience were being allowed to get spectrum at 2001 prices and flip it to foreign companies to make huge windfall profits without building even a network- – like Unitech did with Telenor or Swan did with Etisilat.
But my unrelenting pressure did work and UPA govt had to agree to 3G spectrum being auctioned – this despite a big campaign run by existing Telcos that this valuable 3G spectrum should be given to them without any Auctions – supported again by many worthies’ in media. This 3G spectrum auction netted the govt 70,000 crores or more and woke India and the CAG to the enormous value that the 2G spectrum represented – and which was being given away for peanuts.
The CAG report in 2010 let the proverbial cat out the bag and from that moment on moment on the UPA government was on back foot to defend their actions. It led to CBI filing the charge sheet and Kapil Sibal with his now infamous Zero loss trying to spin the government out of this corruption quicksand.
In February 2012, the Supreme Court had the last word on this - by cancelling all 122 licenses issued on grounds of it being illegal and held that there was a fundamental flaw in the first-come, first-served principle, inasmuch as it “involves an element of pure chance or accident.”It said: “In matters involving award of contracts or grant of licence or permission to use public property, the invocation of the first-come, first-served principle has inherently dangerous implications.”
The supreme Court also held that only auctions should be used to allot scarce natural resources like Spectrum. This judgement of Supreme Court was upheld after a Presidential reference was made to it.
The case in the CBI court that was ruled on today – related to the criminal conspiracy angle to the 2G scam. Since it was clear that windfalls were made by some corporates at the cost of the exchequer – the question of who the conspirators were in the Government enabling this scam, needed an answer.
The judge after 5 years today ruled in his 1552-page judgement that the Prosecution had failed to make a case against the Raja, Kanimozhi et al of criminal conspiracy.
Today’s judgement may have disappointed some – But it simply means that the Investigating agencies failed to prove its case of criminal conspiracy against accused along with the companies involved either because of sloppy prosecution or sloppy investigation of the crimes. Investigating agencies must appeal and do a better job of prosecution.
A quick reading of some parts of the judgement raises more questions than it answers about the conspiracy. Despite the Congress enthusiastic spin today - headed by who else but Kapil Sibal - This judgement doesn’t at all exonerate the UPA government's policies of Spectrum giveaway nor does it supersede the Supreme Court judgement of Feb 2012.
The 2G scam was a real scam – and if it wasn’t for CAG, media and many people who collectively exposed this – India would have had many more crony capitalists today than there were then and our system would still be scamming unafraid of consequences.
As a Congress minister famously said after the Coal Gate scam “Public memory is short” - I think not!