New Delhi: Former Telecom Minister A Raja and 16 others arrested for allegedly conspiring in India's biggest swindle will find out on September 15 whether they will stand trial in the 2G scam.
Like Mr Raja, some of India's most-senior telecom executives are in Tihar Jail; the CBI, which is investigating the scam, has accused them of conspiracy and cheating. A Delhi court assigned to handle the 2G trial will decide on September 15 if there's enough substance in the CBI's arguments. Both the CBI and the lawyers for those accused have completed their arguments.
Mr Raja allegedly cost the country thousands of crores by selling licenses for mobile networks and accompanying second-generation (2G) spectrum to companies at clearance prices in 2008. At least one of those companies, Swan Telecom, allegedly repaid him by sending him a cheque for 214 crores. This money was deposited with a TV channel in Chennai, owned largely by the family of M Karunanidhi, who heads the DMK. Mr Raja was one of the DMK's most popular Dalit leaders. He was also known for his proximity to Kanimozhi, who is Mr Karunanidhi's daughter, and has also been arrested because she owns 20% of the TV channel that allegedly served as a conduit for Mr Raja's kickback
Like Kanimozi, Mr Raja has denied that the money from Swan was a bribe. Both DMK leaders have suggested that they plan to call Prime Minister Dr manmohan Singh as a witness during their trial. Their argument is that the PM was aware of the telecom policies that Mr Raja was following when he granted the 2G licenses.
Dr Singh said a few months ago that it was not the policy, but its distorted implementation by Mr Raja that allowed companies he favoured to get out-of-turn licenses. The CBI says Mr Raja's scam cost the country 30,000 crore.