2G scam: In the first case, former telecom minister A Raja is facing trial (file)
New Delhi: The verdict on whether former Telecom Minister A Raja masterminded India's biggest ever telecom scam is still not ready, the judge handling his trial said, adding that he needs three more weeks to write up his decision. Mr Raja is accused by the country's premier investigating agency, the CBI, of misallocating airwaves and licenses for cellphone networks and causing India 1.76 lakh crores as a result. The Supreme Court earlier agreed that the process he followed as Telecom Minister was polluted, and cancelled all the licenses he had issued. The "2G" trial began in 2011.
Here is your 10-point cheat-sheet on this big story:
- Mr Raja, who is a trained lawyer and has defended himself through his trial, was present in court today when judge OP Saini said his verdict is not ready. The next hearing has been fixed for December 5.
- Mr Raja has denied that he accepted bribes from telecoms in 2007-2008 to issue them out-of-turn licenses at below-market prices. Second-generation or 2G airwaves were bundled with the licenses at no extra cost.
- Named along with Mr Raja in the scandal are the promoters and top executives of some of India's best-known telecoms including the one owned by Anil Ambani's conglomerate.
- Mr Raja, who is from the Tamil Nadu regional party the DMK, was arrested in 2011 and spent nearly one year in prison before getting bail.
- DMK chief M Karunanidhi's daughter, M Kanimozhi, is also accused of corruption. The CBI says that a 200-crore bribe paid by a telecom to Mr Raja was deposited in a TV channel in Chennai that is owned in part by her. She has denied any wrongdoing.
- The judge was expected to announce today the date for delivering his verdict. Yesterday, in a surprise visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the DMK chief at his home in Chennai. The timing was crucial. Political parties are now speculating whether the house call is intended to signal that the DMK is not a pariah for Mr Modi's party, the BJP, which has been exploring avenues to expand its slim presence in Tamil Nadu.
- So far, its efforts have focused on getting closer to the ruling AIADMK. But the PM's visit that he's open to exploring options. The DMK was part of the national coalition led by his party in the early 2000s.
- The 2G scam was among the major corruption scandals that came to light during the second term of Dr Manmohan Singh's coalition government. It became a key constituent of the image of the administration as one seeped in systemic graft.
- The same judge earlier this year acquitted Dayanidhi Maran, another DMK leader who was Mr Raja's predecessor as Telecom Minister, of corruption during his term.
- Mr Maran had been accused by the CBI of misusing his office to force the sale of mobile carrier Aircel to an entrepreneur in Malaysia in exchange for a bribe that was disguised as an investment of 200 crores in a media empire owned by the minister's brother.
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