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Special CBI court reserves verdict in 2G spectrum allocation case

LiveMint logoLiveMint 26-04-2017 Priyanka Mittal

New Delhi: A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Wednesday concluded hearing in the cases relating to irregularities in the allocation of 2G telecom spectrum and licences.

Special judge O.P. Saini, who has been hearing the cases over five years, however, said that there would be a last opportunity in the beginning of July, where additional documents could be submitted by interested parties.

He also said the verdict is likely to be pronounced on 15 July, after the court opens after its summer break.

Since 2012, the special court has been exclusively trying cases relating to the irregularities in the allocation of licences to 2G telecom spectrum.

The court has tried former telecom minister A. Raja, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) parliamentarian Kanimozhi and 15 others, including bureaucrats and businessmen, for charges from cheating to abusing public office to criminal conspiracy.

Besides Raja and Kanimozhi, former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja’s erstwhile private secretary R.K. Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd managing director D. Sanjay Chandra, three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group—Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair—are facing trial in the case.

In 2008, the licences were awarded on a first-come-first-served basis to new entrants and CDMA operators migrating to GSM technology, at a price discovered in an auction held seven years earlier.

The apex court verdict set the stage for an investigation and trial to prosecute those involved. The CBI had told the court that there was a loss of Rs30,984 crore due to the scrapping of licences.

In 2015, the court discharged all accused in the 2002 additional telecom spectrum scam involving former telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms—Bharti Cellular Ltd, Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd (now known as Vodafone India Ltd) and Sterling Cellular Ltd (now Vodafone Mobile Service Ltd).

Two years later, the court also gave clean chits to Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi, and others over allegations that as telecom minister, Dayanidhi Maran used his influence to coerce Aircel owner C. Sivasankaran into selling his stake in the company to T. Ananda Krishnan-led Maxis Communications Bhd.

Besides these 14 accused, three telecom firms—Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd—are being tried under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

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