New Delhi: Till the 2G ‘scam’ came to the fore giving chance for opposition to begin slaying Manmohan Singh’s ‘clean image’, it was ironically Dr. Singh’s penchant of keeping everything transparent and above board that gave his political enemies the opening to begin their assault.
Ministries of UPA were at loggerheads with each other and CBI seemed to be operating on a ‘mandate’ of its own!
And in hindsight it does seem that the CAG was also guilty of throwing up fanciful figures of ‘notional losses’ suffered by the nation in the allocation.
Just look at the chronology of events of the ‘unearthing’ of the alleged 2G ‘Scam’ and you will wonder who was in power then?
(Remember in this UPA Govt. the DMK party of Tamil Nadu was an important constituent and its young politician Raja was in charge of the important Telecom portfolio. Raja was considered a dear protege of DMK stalwart Karunanidhi.)
May 2007: A Raja takes over as telecom minister.
Aug 2007: Process of allotment of 2G spectrum for telecom along with Universal Access Service Licences initiated by the Department of Telecommunications.Telecom ministry fixes October 1, 2007 as deadline for receiving application for UASL licences.
Oct 1, 2007: DoT receives 575 applications for UAS licences of 46 companies.
Nov 2, 2007: The prime minister writes to Raja directing him to ensure fair allotment of the 2G spectrum.
Nov 22, 2007: Finance ministry writes to DoT raising concerns over the procedure adopted by it. Demand for review rejected.
Jan 10, 2008: DoT decides to issue licences on first-come-first-served basis, preponing the cut-off date to September 25, from October 1, 2007. Later on the same day, DoT posted an announcement on its website saying those who apply between 3.30 and 4.30 pm would be issued licences in accordance with the said policy. (According to Finance Minister of present day NDA govt. Jaitley, the policy was later “arbitrarily changed” to First Come First Pay.)
2008: Swan Telecom, Unitech and Tata Teleservices sell off a part of their stakes at much higher rates to Etisalat, Telenor and DoCoMo respectively.
May 4, 2009: An NGO Telecom Watchdog files complaint to the Central Vigilance Commission on the illegalities in the spectrum allocation to Loop Telecom.
May 19, 2009: Another complaint filed to the CVC by one Arun Agarwal, highlighting grant of spectrum to Swan Telecom at throwaway prices.
2009: CVC directs CBI to investigate the irregularities in allocation of the 2G spectrum.
July 1, 2009: Delhi high court holds advancing of cut-off date as illegal on a petition by telecom company S-Tel.
Oct 21, 2009: CBI registers an FIR against “unknown officers of DoT and unknown private persons/ companies under various provisions of IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act.
Oct 22, 2009: CBI raids DoT offices.
Mar 31, 2010: CAG says there were large scale irregularities in the spectrum allocation.
May, 2010: NGO Centre for Public Interest litigation moves Delhi high court seeking probe into the scam by CBI.
May 25, 2010: Delhi HC dismisses the petition.
Aug 2010: Appeal filed in the SC against the HC order.
Aug 18, 2010: HC refuses to direct the prime minister to decide on a complaint by Janata Party chief Swamy seeking sanction to prosecute Raja for his involvement in the 2G scam.
Sept 24, 2010: Swamy moves SC seeking direction to the PM to sanction prosecution of Raja.
Nov 10, 2010: CAG submits report on 2G spectrum to government stating loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to exchequer.
Nov 14, 2010: Raja resigns as telecom minister.
Dec 1, 2010: SC directs original tapes containing conversation between corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and others be handed over to it.
Dec 1, 2010: Raja questions CAG findings in the SC.
Dec 2, 2010: SC comes down heavily on Raja for bypassing and overruling PM’s advice to defer allocation of 2G spectrum by a few days.
Dec 8, 2010: SC asks Centre to consider setting up of a special court to try 2G spectrum scam case.
Dec 8, 2010: ED submits report. Says money trail covers 10 countries, including Mauritius.
Dec 15, 2010: Swamy mentions in complaint that Raja favoured “ineligible” private companies Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd and Unitech Wireless Ltd in allocating the spectrum.
Jan 4, 2011: Swamy moves SC seeking cancellation of 2G spectrum licences.
Feb 2, 2011: Raja, former Telecom Secretary Siddartha Behura and Raja’s former Personal Secretary R K Chandolia arrested. Shahid Usman Balwa, promoter of Swan Telecom, arrested by CBI on Feb 8th.
Feb 10, 2011: SC asks the CBI to bring under its scanner corporate houses which were beneficiaries of the 2G spectrum.
Feb 17, 2011: Raja sent to Tihar Jail under judicial custody.
Feb 18, 2011: Balwa sent to judicial custody.
Feb 24, 2011: CBI tells Delhi court Balwa facilitated transaction to Kalaignar TV.
Feb 28, 2011: Raja seeks judicial proceedings through video conferencing stating that he faces threat to life from fellow prisoners.
Mar 14, 2011: The Delhi high court sets up special court to deal exclusively with 2G cases. Balwa also allowed to appear via video conferencing.
Mar 29, 2011: SC permits CBI to file charge sheet on April 2 instead of March 31. Two more persons — Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal arrested.
Apr 2, 2011: The CBI files its first charge sheet in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.
Apr 25, 2011: CBI files second charge sheet and court issues summons to Kanimozhi, Sharad Kumar and Karim Morani taking cognisance of the charge sheet.
May 20, 2011: Court rejects bail pleas of Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar and orders their forthwith arrest.
July 25, 11: Arguments on charge framing begins. Raja seeks to make PM and P Chidambaram as witnesses.
Aug 23, 11: Swamy moves SC for making Chidambaram an accused.
Sept 8, 11: SC asks Swamy to submit his correspondences with CBI in connection with his plea to probe Chidambaram for his alleged role in the 2G scam.
Sept 15, 11: Swamy moves Special CBI court to make Chidambaram a co-accused.
Sept 29, 11: CBI says role of Anil Ambani being probed, gives a clean chit to Tata and Videocon group.
Oct 10, 11: SC reserves order on Swamy’s plea for a probe into the alleged role of Chidambaram in the 2G scam.
Oct 22, 11: Special court frames charges against Raja and 16 others in the 2G case.
Nov, 11: Barring Raja and Behura, 12 others get bail.
Dec 12, 11: CBI files third charge sheet. Names Essar promoters Anshuman, Ravi Ruia, Essar Group director (Strategy and Planning) Vikas Saraf, Loop Telecom promoters Kiran Khaitan and her husband I P Khaitan as accused.
Jan 31, 12: SC says filing complaint under the PC Act is a constitutional right and the competent authority should take a decision on giving the sanction within four months.
Feb 2, 2012: SC cancels 122 licences granted during Raja’s tenure. Directs auctioning of licences in 4 months.
May 9, 2012: SC grants bail to Siddharth Behura, upholds bail of R K Chandolia. A Raja too moves court for bail.
May 11, 2012: Behura walks out of Tihar jail.
May 15, 2012: Special CBI court grants bail to A Raja.
December 21, 2017 In court today the judge today took just a few minutes to read out the operative part of his judgement clearing all accused of charges : “I have no hesitation in holding that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove the charges and all the accused are acquitted of the charges.”
The Verdict a further sign that political alignments changing?
Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited M Karunanidhi at his home in Chennai in a surprise move. The timing was crucial. Political parties have been speculating whether the house call was intended to signal that the DMK is not a pariah for the BJP, despite his daughter being one of the prime accused in 2G.
Remember, ever since Jaylalitha’s death, BJP has been exploring avenues to expand its slim presence in Tamil Nadu.