Economy

2G: Charges framed against Raja, Kanimozhi and 15 others

Arun S. New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on October 22, 2011

Ms Kanimozhi, MP and Mr A. Raja, former Minister for Communications and IT (file photo)   -  Business Line

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The trial in the 2G spectrum case is set to start on November 11 after a Special Court on Saturday framed charges against 17 accused, including the former Telecom Minister, Mr A. Raja, and the DMK MP, Ms Kanimozhi.

The charges against all the accused include criminal breach of trust (by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), which is punishable with imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for a term extending up to 10 years and fine. The other charges against all of them are criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and some provisions under the Prevention of Corruption Act including abetment of offences.

The accused also include three companies namely, Swan Telecom (now Etisalat DB), Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd and Reliance Telecom Ltd. According to the CBI chargesheet, the wrongful acts of the accused deprived the exchequer of revenues amounting to Rs 30,984.55 crore.

The Special Judge, Mr O.P. Saini, was scheduled to pronounce the order at 10 a.m. However, there was a delay for almost two hours, for which he apologised to a packed court room just before reading out the operational portion of the order at noon.

In its order, the court observed that Mr Raja allegedly “entered into a conspiracy with these accused persons and companies and other unknown persons… with a purpose to issue licences to Swan Telecom and companies promoted by Unitech Ltd by manipulating the priority list on the basis of Letter of Intent compliance instead of the existing practice of deciding applications on the basis of the date of applications.”

On Ms Kanimozhi, the court said that she had been “in regular touch” with Mr Raja regarding launching of Kalaignar TV channels and also for getting registration of the company from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

‘Active brain'

Ms Kanimozhi also held 20 per cent equity in Kalaignar TV and was an “active brain” behind its operations, it added.

The court further said that Rs 200 crore paid by Dynamix Realty to Kalaignar TV through Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables and Cineyug Films Pvt Ltd was not a genuine business transaction, but in the nature of illegal gratification paid in lieu of the 2G licences to Swan Telecom.

It observed that even if the transaction was in the nature of loan as claimed by the accused, it was a valuable thing obtained for undue favours shown to the accused companies.

In another significant observation, the court said that apart from granting licences illegally, Mr Raja and the then Telecom Secretary Mr Siddhartha Behura “unauthorisedly” amended licence conditions to allow intra-circle roaming.

This allegedly enabled Swan Telecom to sign a deal with BSNL after which it offloaded 45 per cent stake to Etisalat Ltd of UAE for Rs 4,200 crore.

Mr Behura and Mr R.K. Chandolia (the then private secretary to Mr Raja) have also been blamed for allegedly transferring two officers of the Wireless Planning Coordination wing of the Telecom Department as they were not prepared to toe the line.

Meanwhile, the hearing on the bail plea of several of the accused including that of Ms Kanimozhi is set to resume from October 24.

Reliance Telecom said that the charges did not mean that the executives or the company were guilty and the company would move Delhi High Court to get these charges quashed.

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Published on October 22, 2011
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