The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) began making submissions on Monday on its appeal before the Delhi High Court challenging the acquittal of accused persons, including former telecom minister A Raja, and firms in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case in December 2017.
The counsel appearing for the federal probe agency said the trial court judgment was based on “wrong conclusions” and was “untenable in law”.
Although the CBI had earlier concluded its submissions on the issue of “leave to appeal”, it is now arguing the matter afresh due to a change of the judge.
Leave to appeal is a formal permission granted by a court to a party to challenge a decision in a higher court.
Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma directed that the case be listed for further hearing on Tuesday, while noting that the appeal was part-heard and was earlier asked to be listed on a day-to-day basis.
The lawyer for the CBI said the case concerns “five points” of irregularities — association between government officials and telecom operators, fixation of a cut-off, violation of the first-come-first-serve principle, non-revision of the entry fee and a money trail of Rs 200 crore.
The illegal acts of the accused caused a loss of Rs 22,000 crore to the public exchequer, he said.
An appeal filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the acquittal of all the accused in a connected money-laundering case is also pending before the court.
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, appearing for some of the acquitted people, including R K Chandolia, said once an accused is let off in the scheduled offence, the same consequence has to follow in the money-laundering case as well.
Earlier, the case was being heard on a day-to-day basis by Justice Brijesh Sethi, who retired on November 30, 2020 and had released the matter from his board on November 23 of the same year owing to a paucity of time.
Before demitting the office, Justice Sethi had decided various petitions and applications filed by the acquitted individuals and firms in the three cases arising out of the 2G scam probe lodged by the CBI and the ED.
After concluding the submissions in the CBI’s main case, the high court would take up the ED’s money-laundering case, in which all the accused were acquitted by a special court.
The special court had, on December 21, 2017, acquitted Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and others in the CBI and ED cases related to the scam.
Besides Raja and Kanimozhi, the special court had acquitted former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja’s former private secretary R K Chandolia, Unitech Limited managing director Sanjay Chandra and three top executives of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG) — Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair — in the 2G case lodged by the CBI.
Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka and the directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Private Limited — Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal — were also acquitted in the CBI case.
The special court had also acquitted Swan Telecom (Private) Limited, Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Limited, Reliance Telecom Limited, film producer Karim Morani and Kalaignar TV director Sharad Kumar in the CBI case.
On the same day, the special court had also acquitted 19 accused, including Raja, Kanimozhi, DMK supremo M Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal, Vinod Goenka, Asif Balwa, Karim Morani, P Amirtham and Sharad Kumar, in the ED case.
It had also acquitted Essar Group promoters Ravi Kant Ruia and Anshuman Ruia, Loop Telecom promoters I P Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan and four others in a separate case arising out of the 2G scam probe.
On March 19, 2018, the ED approached the high court, challenging the special court’s order acquitting all the accused.
A day later, the CBI too challenged in the high court the acquittal of the accused.