New Delhi: A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Thursday acquitted all 17 accused in the case relating to irregularities in the allocation of 2G telecom spectrum and licences.The special court has since 2011 been trying the accused, including former telecom minister A. Raja, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) parliamentarian Kanimozhi and 15 others, on charges varying from cheating and criminal conspiracy to abuse of public office. Here is a chronology of events leading to the verdict:
May: A. Raja appointed telecom minister.
August: Department of Telecommunications (DoT) initiates the process of allotment of 2G Spectrum and licences.
October: Raja announces that on the recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, there would be no auction of spectrum, which would be allocated. DoT receives 575 applications from 46 firms.
January: DoT decides to issue licences on a first-come, first-served basis with a retrospective cut-of date of 25 September 2007.
May: Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) receives a complaint from Telecom Watchdog, a non-government organisation, alleging illegalities in 2G spectrum allocation. CVC orders a probe by the CBI.
July: The Delhi high court rules that the cutoff date for licence applications of 25 September 2007 is illegal.
October: A first information report is filed by the CBI against “unknown officers" of DoT and unknown private persons/companies under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Prevention of Corruption Act.
September: The Supreme Court issues notice to the Centre and Raja on a petition by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, an NGO, over an alleged Rs70,000 crore scam in granting 2G licences in 2008.
November: A Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report, tabled in the Lok Sabha, says that allocation of 2G spectrum led to a presumptive loss of Rs1.76 trillion to the exchequer.
—Raja steps down as telecom minister.
February: The Supreme Court asks the Centre to constitute a special court for hearing cases related to irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum.
—Raja is sent to 14 days in judicial custody for his alleged involvement in the case. Shahid Usman Balwa, then director of Swan Telecom Pvt. Ltd, is also remanded to judicial custody.
March: A special CBI court is set up for hearing cases related to the so-called 2G scam.
April: The first chargesheet filed by CBI names Raja, Balwa and Raja’s ex-private secretary R.K. Chandolia, along with Reliance Group managing director Gautam Doshi, senior vice president Hari Nair, group president Surendra Pipara, Swan Telecom promoter Vinod Goenka and Unitech Ltd managing director Sanjay Chandra. Reliance Telecom Ltd, Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd are also chargesheeted.
—DMK chief M. Karunanidhi’s daughter and MP Kanimozhi and four others are named in the second chargesheet filed by CBI.
October: The special CBI court frames charges against all accused.
November: The special CBI court begins trial.
—The Supreme Court grants bail to five corporate executives, namely Sanjay Chandra, Vinod Goenka, and Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara.
—The Delhi high court grants bail to Kanimozhi, Sarath Kumar of Kalaignar TV, Karim Morani of Cineyug and DB Realty’s Rajiv Aggarwal and Asif Balwa.
—The special CBI court grants bail to Shahid Balwa.
December: CBI files a third chargesheet, naming Essar Group promoters Anshuman and Ravi Ruia, its director (strategy and planning) Vikas Saraf, Loop Telecom Pvt. Ltd promoters Kiran Khaitan and her husband I. P Khaitan, along with Loop Telecom, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Tele Holding.
February: The Supreme Court cancels 122 telecom licences and spectrum allocated to nine companies in January 2008 during Raja’s tenure, saying the process of allocation was flawed. It orders that the spectrum be auctioned.
—The Supreme Court asks the special CBI court to decide on P. Chidambaram’s alleged role in the case within 2 weeks. Also asks CBI to supervise the probe and submit a status report on the investigation to the central vigilance commission (CVC).
—Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy moves the Supreme Court, challenging the special court’s order dismissing his plea to make Chidambaram a co-accused in the 2G case.
—Centre for Public Interest Litigation moves the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the CBI to conduct a thorough investigation into the alleged role of Chidambaram in spectrum allocation irregularities.
August: The Supreme Court dismisses a plea for a CBI inquiry against Chidambaram, saying that there was no material to establish that he abused his official position as the finance minister.
August: Enforcement Directorate (ED) files a chargesheet before the special CBI court against Raja, Kanimozhi, and 17 others in connection with a suspected case of money laundering related to the 2G spectrum allocation irregularities. It also names DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka as accused in the case, in which it alleges that Rs200 crore was paid by Swan promoters to DMK-run Kalaignar TV.
October: Charge of money laundering made out against A. Raja, Kanimozhi and others by a special CBI court. Trial to commence on 11 November.
November: The Supreme Court rejects a plea by Kanimozhi for quashing of charges against her.
26 April: The special CBI court reserves verdict in 2G spectrum allocation case.
21 December: The special court acquits all accused.