Special CBI court grants bail to all accused in 2G case
A special CBI court has granted bail to all of the accused in the 2G spectrum scam case, including former Telecom Minister A Raja and Member of Parliament Kanimozhi.
Vijay Aggarwal, the lawyer for the accused, said, "CBI Special Court Judge O P Saini has granted bail to all the accused, with the personal bail bond kept as Rs.5 lakh. A case had been filed by the Enforcement Directive (ED) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act."
The 2G spectrum scam involved both politicians and government officials in India illegally undercharging mobile telephone companies for frequency allocation licenses, which they would then use to create 2G spectrum subscriptions for cell phones.
The shortfall between the money collected and the money that the law mandated to be collected is estimated to be Rs.1766.45 billion (USD 29 billion), as valued by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India based on 3G and BWA spectrum auction prices in 2010.
In a charge sheet filed on April 2, 2011 by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the loss was pegged at Rs.309845.5 million (USD 5.1 billion), whereas on August 19, 2011 in a reply to CBI, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said that the government gained over Rs.30 billion (USD 500 million) by giving away 2G spectrum.
Kapil Sibal, the then Minister of Communications and Information Technology, claimed in 2011, during a press conference, that "zero loss" was caused by distributing 2G licenses on first-come-first-served basis.
It has to be pointed out, however, that "zero loss" can simply mean that frequencies were not sold for less than cost. The phrase indicates nothing about the legitimacy of the sale.
All the speculations of profit, loss, and no-loss were put to rest on February 2, 2012, when the Supreme Court of India delivered a judgment on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which was directly related to the 2G spectrum scam.
The Supreme Court declared the allotment of spectrum as "unconstitutional and arbitrary" and quashed all 122 licenses issued in 2008 during the tenure of A. Raja. The court further said that A. Raja "wanted to favour some companies at the cost of the public exchequer" and "virtually gifted away an important national asset."
The zero loss theory was further demolished on August 3, 2012, when, as per the directions of the Supreme Court, the Government of India revised the base price for 5 MHz 2G spectrum auction to Rs.140 billion (USD 2.3 billion), leading the value of spectrum to amount to roughly Rs.28 billion (USD 460 million) per MHz: a figure close to the CAG's estimate of Rs.33.5 billion (USD 560 million) per MHz.
The 2G spectrum scandal, of which A Raja and Kanimozhi stand accused, was of the alleged sale of telecommunications bandwidth at undervalued prices.
(Posted on 20-08-2014)