Issue Before CBI Different, Says Supreme Court Judge Who Scrapped 2G Licences

Issue Before CBI Different, Says Supreme Court Judge Who Scrapped 2G Licences


NEW DELHI:  A day after a special court acquitted former Telecom Minister A Raja and all other accused in what was described as India's biggest corruption scandal, the "2G scam", a Supreme Court judge who had earlier scrapped 122 licences allocated by Mr Raja calling them illegal, has questioned the order.

Justice GS Singhvi was in the two-judge bench that declared all the licences issued by Mr Raja "illegal and arbitrary" and cancelled them in 2012.

Yesterday, Mr Raja was let off the hook by a special CBI court that said "a huge scam was seen by everyone where there was none." As the Congress, which was in power at the time, called it vindication, the BJP reminded of the Supreme Court order.

"The issue before the CBI court and the Supreme Court were completely different," said retired Justice Singhvi in an exclusive interview to NDTV.

"The issue before the Supreme Court was the allocation of spectrum without auction - the fundamental principle of distribution of natural resources through auction," he said, adding that he held it was impermissible.

"Whether there was a conspiracy in spectrum allocation and any corruption was not before us - that was for the CBI court to decide," said Justice Singhvi.

But the retired judge did raise a question about the Delhi court ruling. "The government at the first instance after auction said it got Rs. 65,000 crores. Now it is said no loss of revenue. Who did it?  It is for the people to decide," he said.

The "2G" case involves allegations - based on then national auditor Vinod Rai's report - that there had been massive irregularities in the allocation of second generation or 2G licences when Mr Raja was minister. Licenses were given to telecom operators in 2007-2008 at throwaway prices without a bidding process at the cost of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore in revenue loss to the government, said the report.

The allegations derailed then prime minister Manmohan Singh's Congress-led government and left the party battling notoriety over a string of corruption scams. Yesterday, the party demanded an apology from the BJP.

Union Minister Arun Jaitley, however, reminded that the Supreme Court had accepted epic corruption while cancelling the 2G licences and ordering an auction. 

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