The Special CBI court conducting the trial on 2G spectrum allocation matter on Thursday discharged former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms in the 2002 additional spectrum allocation case. In what came as an embarrassment for the probe agency CBI, the court in its order said the agency’s charge sheet was “full of distorted and fabricated facts” and it tried to “mislead” the court.
Special CBI Judge O P Saini also directed the CBI Director to conduct an inquiry against the erring officials and take action against them as per law.
Coming down heavily on CBI, the court in its 235-page order said that the charge sheet was based on “deliberately redacted and garbled facts” and it was drafted in a manner to create an impression that a grave crime was committed, whereas there was none and there was “no incriminating material on record” against the accused.
The court said that CBI had “deliberately” not produced many relevant documents before it only to indicate that demand for additional spectrum started only after late Pramod Mahajan had joined as the Telecom Minister in 2001.
“It (charge sheet) has been so drafted as to create an impression of a grave crime, where there is none. An attempt has been made to create an impression in the charge sheet that everything was done on a single day in the dark hours of evening of January 31, 2002. There is no doubt that the charge sheet has been filed for extraneous reasons,” the judge in his order said.
Discharging Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms — Hutchison Max (P) Ltd, Sterling Cellular Ltd and Bharti Cellular Ltd, the court ruled that “there is no incriminating material on record against the accused and the accused deserve to be discharged.”
Shyamal Ghosh, a 1965 batch retired IAS officer who was the Telecom Secretary between February 7, 2000 and May 31, 2002, and three telecom firms were charge sheeted by CBI in the case relating to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) allocating additional spectrum that had allegedly led to a loss of Rs 846.44 crore to exchequer.
Further in his order, special Judge OP Saini pulled up the investigating agency observing that various important aspects, like report of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), were not considered by the CBI in its charge sheet and the allegations levelled by the agency were contrary to the records.
“The above discussion makes it clear that charge sheet has been drafted in such a manner as to create an impression that the demand for additional spectrum began only on the joining of late Pramod Mahajan as Minister with the presentation of COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) to DOT on October 4, 2001, consequent to their letter dated September 19, 2001,” the order read.
In its charge sheet, CBI had alleged that Ghosh had deliberately and with a malafide intention not obtained comments of then Member (Finance) of DoT on the issue despite the matter involving huge “financial implications”.
All the accused were charge sheeted for the alleged offence of criminal conspiracy (section 120-B) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
(With inputs from the PTI)