22 Dec 2G Verdict Decoded: Founder CEO Pradip Bhandari in an Exclusive interview with Founding-Partner Akriti Bhatia
In this interview cum reportage, team Jan Ki Baat will try to explain the 2G spectrum verdict given by a CBI Court on 21st December 2017 to all of our viewers. To make sense of the whole case and to understand what was at stake in the present case, we need to understand the whole matter in a very detailed way and our Founder & CEO Pradip Bhandari will answer all the questions related to this case in an exclusive interview with our Founding-partner Akriti Bhatia. Watch the video and read the report as they discuss the intricacies of the case.
The acquittal of the accused raises some very fundamental questions as to whether any scam did take place or not We should not forget that in this case 1076 lakh crore rupees were at stake.
Akriti Bhatia (Founding Partner ‘Jan Ki Baat’) – Judge O. P Saini in the present 2G verdict has said that “a Scam was talked about when there was none”. Is it also about question-related to the credibility of the report of then CAG Vinod Rai, what do you have to say about that?
Pradip Bhandari (Founder & CEO ‘Jan Ki Baat’) – We have to understand that In 2012, Supreme Court had given a verdict that all the licenses that were allotted according to ‘first come- first serve’ policy by the Central Government in 2007 had to be declared null and void. The Supreme Court also said that the procedure of allotment was against public policy and was capricious in nature. This 2G verdict should be seen in light of this decision by the Supreme court in 2012.
In the present 2G verdict the Judge O.P. Saini has also said that “A. Raja might not be mother lord of the whole controversy, there might be other people involved too”. The judgment also said that the then Principle secretary to the PM Office Shri Pulok Chatterjee, might not have disclosed all the facts to the PM to the reasons best known to his knowledge. When he saw this policy, he talked to the PM only after it was decided by the then Telecom Minister A. Raja. So the question that appears is that why was the then PM Manmohan Singh not consulted before Telecom Ministry took any decision? Why there was a decision taken by the Shri Pulok Chatterjee without sharing the facts with the PM, since only the PM had the authority to take such decisions, why was he not consulted?
However on 23rd January 2008, Manmohan Singh said that he wanted to express his dissent informally. Again the question appears is why did he not express his dissent in a formal manner? Also, why was the special public prosecutor, Anand Grover who was appointed by the Supreme Court, not interested in filing written submissions? And when he finally did file it, why he did not sign it? The Next question which baffles us is, why the Junior officials in the CBI were made to sign the documents, when it should have been the responsibility of the senior officers in the CBI to sign it? And because the Junior officers were signing the documents, it is quite possible that several names may have been skipped from the Chargesheet.
I believe that there is no conspiracy (planted by the present Government) as being said by the media. If Supreme Court in 2012 has said that the licenses have to be cancelled claiming that there was something wrong done with a malicious and bad intention. Supreme court does not give decisions based on Conspiracy but the Judgements are based on legally admissable evidences. I believe that the present government should appeal this decision in the higher courts and change its law officers so that culprits could be convicted.
AB – Are you saying that this Judgement is flawed? The Judgment says that the disinterest of the prosecution and unwillingness of the deponents have made this case weak, what do you have to say about it? Why there is so much difficulty to prove the case by the Prosecution? Why have the public-spirited citizens not raised their voice?
PB – I am also not able to understand that where the public spirited individuals are, it is a valid question that has to be asked to them. Why have they not come forward as witnesses? Also it is to be noted that when the Chargesheet in this matter was filed by the CBI in 2011 under the guidance of the then CBI chief Ranjeet Sinha; the question that arises is whether a diluted Chargesheet was presented to the CBI Court so that the accused could not be made liable as the pieces of evidence presented therein have turned out to be non-admissible? However questions shall be raised for the present Government as well; it could also be asked as to why it did not add more p pieces of evidence AFTER it got to know that the Chargesheet seems to be diluted? There could be two possible answers, one that the Chargesheet was so diluted that no more pieces of evidence could have made it a stronger case from the side of the prosecution or the Government simply did not take interest in taking up the matter further. But the thing which is sure is that the Chargesheet that was filed in 2012 was so much diluted that no accused could have been convicted in any case. Again i want to stress on the point as to why Shri Pulok Chatterjee did not disclose all the facts to the PM?
People are saying that the Judgement says that there was NO scam that took place but it is not true as in the Judgement O.P. Saini himself has further said that “The files that were presented to me did not have clarity, there were technicalities involved with the documents which were not been able to be understood by the officers of the then telecom ministry itself”.
Now, we know that in the court of law the accused has to be convicted beyond reasonable doubt, even if it could be said that there was malicious intention; the case against the accused has to be proven beyond the reasonable doubt from the side of the prosecution. Malafide Intention could be there but proving Malafide Intention beyond reasonable doubt is necessary. Clearly, it has not been done in the present case till now.
AB – Do you think that all such high profile verdicts serve the political purpose? People say that an informal agreement exists between the two parties, i.e., the BJP & the Congress, and this has reduced public trust in their Governments. How can accountability, reasonableness be ensured in such an environment?
PB – Before answering this question, I would like to explain the whole situation prevalent at the time of allocation of Spectrum in May, 2008. A. Raja, the then Telecom Minister, invited application for the spectrum allocation, it was decided that the last date to receive applications shall be 25th September, and later on this was extended till 1st October 2007. However, in January 2008, it was stated that only the application received till 25th September shall be considered. On that day it was said that today between 2:30 and 3:30 whoever shall file application, they shall be issued Letter of Intent on ‘first come and first serve’ basis.
AB – Could you please elaborate on the procedure involved in allocation of the telecom services spectrum?
PB – Spectrum is a medium through which data is sent, it is understood as the frequency through which the operator sends the data. 575 applications were received within this duration and the policy of ‘first come first serve’ was followed and licenses were allotted. There existed the problem as there was no open bidding, no qualifications and the ability and capacity of the bidders were seen, just the spectrum was allotted on the basis of ‘first come first serve’ policy. Now you see, here the possibility of arbitrariness could be there, as spectrum could have been purchased with the help of over the top sources and money power. Also, there are chances that some very big names could be involved in this whole scheme of scam. I Believe that within 2-3 months, this case should be appealed in the higher court, and if that doesn’t happen, then it could be said that there are chances that even the present Government is also not serious about taking up this matter further.
AB – What was the biggest loophole in this whole case, if you could please elaborate? If we see the Public Prosecutor was appointed by the Supreme Court itself, also the CBI has also failed and no clarity was there with the CBI. Do you think that the Justice has been served? In light of the agenda of the present Government which is zero-tolerance against corruption, how could they lose the grip over the case which involved 1076 lakh crore rupees?
PB – We should not lose hope; we still have higher courts where we can go in appeal. There might be possibility of prosecution not being wanting to proceed with the case but I believe that this would not be the case. The present Government will have to show seriousness related to this case so that a positive perception goes in the public. But we have to understand that the present Government can’t do much about this case, more-so when the charge sheet was filed by the earlier Government.
We have to understand that Mukul Rohatgi, who became the Attorney General of India in 2014, was earlier the counsel for the accused. This raises concerns related to his credibility and intention as Government’s primary counsel and legal advisor in the 2G case as Attorney General. Let me tell you that it is a very big scam, which could be linked to the organised loop through which the scam was undertaken. Some names of the builders are involved who are the richest people of this country. It cannot be denied that a big conspiracy might have operated to make this scam possible. But we should be hopeful that the Government will take steps to make this case stringer in the appellate courts.
AB – Having read the CBI Verdict and looking at other fault lines in the investigation agencies of our country, what suggestions would you give to our law enforcement mechanism?
PB – We have faith in Due process of Law and which takes time. We need judicial as well as police reforms. We see that financial crimes are not being investigated with much seriousness when a big name in involved in the case. For the present case, both the parties have to come together that the culprits be punished and the scam could be unleashed. Equality before law and justice for law is must for this country.
Manmohan Singh: Seeing through the Prism
December 20th, 2010 the day when 83rd AICC plenary meeting was taking place in Delhi, where the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a statement that “like Caesar’s wife, the Prime Minister should be above suspicion” and agreed to appear before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee headed by Murli Manohar Joshi of Bharatiya Janata Party which was looking into the 2G scam issue.
It is to be remembered that Manmohan Singh was not scheduled to speak about anything other than matters related to the AICC plenary meeting but he did deviate from the agenda of the day to defend himself in the 2G case and agreed to appear before the PAC. The media and the narrow lanes of politics were all filled with curiosity after the PM himself had made such a big statement; in some ways it showed how helpless and restless could a PM get.
Fast forward to 22nd of December 2017, almost 7 years later when the then Prime Minister singh made this statement, the prime accused in the said 2G case has been acquitted of all the charges of corruption and money-laundering. The acquittal has come as a result of judgement delivered by CBI judge who was investigating the 2G case. As has been categorically said in this case that there was no evidence available and no circumstances showed to the court under which the accused, the then Telecom minister A. Raja and Kanimozhi could be held liable and be convicted for the said charges, we need to read between the lines of this Judgement.
This story has been done by Sparsh Upadhyay