2G scam verdict: CBI, ED to appeal in Delhi HC against acquittals
The 2G scam verdict casts doubts over the competence of investigations performed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate
New Delhi: Both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are set to move the Delhi high court to challenge Thursday’s ruling by a special CBI court that acquitted all 17 accused of committing irregularities in the 2008 allocation of 2G spectrum and licences.
The ruling cast doubts over the competence of investigations performed by the two agencies. The suspects, including former telecom minister A. Raja, were charged with corruption, criminal conspiracy and abuse of public office.
“The judgement relating to the 2G scam case of today has been prima facie examined and it appears that the evidence adduced to substantiate the charges by the prosecution has not been appreciated in its proper perspective by the learned court. The CBI will be taking necessary legal remedies in the matter,” CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said.
Other people familiar with the CBI’s plans said the agency would appeal against the judgement within the next 60 days, after seeking legal counsel and studying any lacunae in the judgement.
“The CBI had provided written and documentary evidence running into lakhs of pages, along with 250 witnesses. While documented proof always takes precedence, they were not considered by the court and instead the oral evidence of the accused was relied on,” a person said on condition of anonymity.
Likewise, the other investigating agency in the matter, the ED, also said the court had failed to probe “offence of money laundering as a standalone offence.”
2G spectrum was given in 2008 at 2001 rates on a first come, first served basis, wherein “it helped companies that were ready to submit a demand draft for the bidding at short notice, thus effectively keeping out eligible companies,” the first person cited above said.
The agency is also set to move the high court on the basis of the “fake companies set up by the front (parent) companies so that one group could get more than one (telecom) circle during the bidding,” said this person, noting that the Supreme Court, which had been monitoring the investigation, had “in fact cancelled 122 licences” because of flaws in the allocation process.
In a statement, the ED said that while the “proceeds of crime is defined under Section 2(1)(u) of PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act), which considers only the criminal activity instead of commission of an offence,” the acquittal “by interpreting the term criminal activity to the extent of commission of an offence appears to be erroneous.”
The ED added that while the court had considered the material evidence of money laundering at the time of framing of charges against the accused, it did not consider the same “while deciding the prosecution complaint under PMLA,” thereby acquitting the accused of money laundering charges “on the basis of no commission of offence and not the occurrence of criminal activity.”
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