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2G: A Scam or just a mathematical mistake?

9 min read
2G 3G 4G 5G TELECOM SCAM TRAI LAW INSIDER IN

2G 3G 4G 5G TELECOM SCAM TRAI LAW INSIDER IN

By Tarun Ghai

 

Referred to as 2nd biggest scam of the world, the events that have unfolded in the 2G saga astonishes everyone. A scam which had raised fingers over loads of big political faces and taken a turn and after years of investigation it feels that the case is not turning in the right direction.

In this article I will be discussing some of the important events that happened in this case and how various revelations were made which shocked the entire country.

Let’s first understand what is 2G?

2G refers to the technological variation that was brought about to change the system of how internet works and how to make it more viable for the general public at large.

With the advent of new technologies it was necessary to compete with other developing countries and internet was going to be important addition for the countries looking to go global. Global system for communication was a tried and tested system for countries who were much advanced that India at that point of time and so introducing the technology became an important aspect at that time.

If we try and understand the things that came along 2G was that the speed of internet increased widely and the communications became much easier, the technology made it easier to send SMS and MMS at a low cost with much greater efficacy.

Apart from this it was believed that an extra advantage will be that there was privacy and data efficiency. The idea was to also increase communications in at least the urban areas to make it more reachable for industries and companies.[1]

After this came the 3G, the third generation technology was adopted with the view to not only increase the bandwidth but to also provide customers and fast and cheap data connection, considered as one of the most available and used technology, it has changed the way how sectors work now and it is something which is readily available even in rural areas, it is estimated to cover around 87% of the population.

After this came 4G technology, a kind of technology which we have been using presently. With the idea that soon we will be needing high speed data to send huge files and data across various platform.

Various technological innovations have arrived to make high speed data more feasible across users.

Now we are at the doorstep of 5G, technological which will help us to get use to new normal and be more efficient in how we work. A technology which will increase our internet speed to unimaginable ideas and also which will help us conduct lot of daily activities online.

This is the future of technology. Though it is still a new technology to Indian markets, it has been used regularly in Japan and other developed countries using modern fiber cables and long range towers which can cover large areas very easily.[2]

The CAG Report on the scam gave some valuable insights as to what happened in the case, a brief of that report is given below[3]

  1. It was alleged that firms dealing with the licensing and provide services were suppressing material facts and gave documents which were not at all trustworthy. The number showed whooping 85 companies involved in this.
  2. The spectrum pricing was kept out of the control, hence by keeping it out of government purview it made the transparency questionable.
  3. The spectrum was not properly distributed meaning that no auctions were conducted no proper bidding process was undertaken, the minister and department just allocated according to their own wishes.
  4. A lot of shell companies are suspected to be involved in the scam, one of them being Swan Telecom who is alleged as a shell company of Reliance Telecommunications.
  5. The demand draft was were to be paid in lieu of payment for the spectrum allocation were all backdated, which can imply that some insider provided them with the information much before the actual notification and this also raises the question over the transparency.
  6. The email id mentioned in the Swan telecom has address similar to that of an official belonging to Reliance communications.
  7. Because there was merger between idea and spice at point of time hence they were not given the spectrum.
  8. The department has a policy of first come first give policy but it didn’t followed that instead it allocated according to its own wishes.
  9. The entire process was lacking transparency at none of the steps could it be understood that the process was unbiased and principals of equality were followed.
  10. The spectrum allocation was supposed to be fair and partial because it was a national asset of the country and instead of making profits out of it, it was estimated that due to wrong and biased allocation the government incurred a loss of around Rs 1.76 Lakh crore which is a very big amount particularly in a county like India which is in very nascent stage of development of this kind of technology.

After this due notices were issued to the concerned minister A Raja and the centre government. This was after an NGO named Centre for PIL filed an petition alleging that a scam as big as 70, 000 crore has occurred.

Now will be discussing how the events actually occurred and how after almost 10 years of litigation the court has delivered its judgement and acquitted all the people who were once named in the charge sheet.

So after this the apex court asked centre government to constitute a special court where irregularities related to this case will be discussed and the minister who was alleged in the crime was sent to judicial custody.

After the chargesheet was filed it revealed the names of lot of people who had strong political background for eg: MP Kanimozhi’s name along with four other members shocked the entire state.

In the year 2012 the apex court declared all the licenses issued by the department headed by Raja as flawed and cancelled them.

Fingers were also pointed at P. Chidambaram for his alleged role in bribery and falsely asking the department to allocate the spectrum. But the apex court subsequent to this dismissed all the charges against the minister stating that there is no substantial proof against him.

Some of the big names of DMK party were also added as accused and inquiry was started against them. Another allegation that was made was that a certain amount of bribery was paid by the Swan telecom promoter so as to get them spectrum allocation.

Here is it important to understand that not more that 10% was to allocated to any particular firm but Reliance in the name of Swan telecom tried to gather more than the threshold limit. Also money laundering case was instituted against A. Raja, Kanimozhi and other co accused.

A whopping 40,000 pages of chargesheet was presented in the court naming Essar Group, Kalaignar Tv owners and several other person with allegations running from false documents to bribery to different officials. All the co accused denied the claims and said that the allocation was done according to the way provided by the Government and the allegation were false in nature.[4]

The point of law is there was huge loss in public exchequer and Supreme Court has verified this as it said that the cancelling of license has given loss referred as Presumptive loss to the telecom companies as well so now it is important that we try and find a middle way to make sure that justice is severed .

After Raja resigned Kapil Sibbal came to head and department and gave a theory of no or zero loss as he said that government has not lost any money in allocating the spectrum and everything was done judicially and wisely.

With years of litigation the evidences seems to be lost somewhere and the case has gone in a different direction from where it was supposed to be.

Citing reasons like lack of proper evidences the special court acquitted all the accused and said that the prosecution has failed to establish its point beyond reasonable doubt which is an important thing to prove in criminal law. [5]

Changes in law and Introduction of Prevention of Corruption Act, 2018

All the co-accused have filed an affidavit citing reasons that the act done by them has not been defined in the newly induced act, hence they all must be made free from the charges that have been leveled against them. This has also been quoted by the lawyer for Mr. A Raja recently.

Mr. Vijay Agarwal, lawyer for the defense who is presently fighting the Nirav Modi case while giving an interview highlighted few important points with respect to this case and also his viewpoint on the acquittal.

He said, ‘ In reality there was no scam, there has been a blatant defect in report given by CAG. It has shown us that there were severe defects in the calculation of the accountants of the committee. He said that India is a welfare state, the policies that have been framed are in regards to overall development of the country.

The licenses that were issued included new players who were entering the market. The idea behind giving them the chance was to increase the network density or what we call teledensity which would in turn decrease the call rates and increase the network coverage area.

He said it was important to understand that all the licenses where given in due regard to the guidelines issued by TRAI.

He has also questioned the working of CAG Vinod Rai and has alleged it is beyond acceptance that a person enjoying such high statue in the country has failed to take reasonable care while forming a report and alleging a scam.

He added that the special judge has clearly said that prosecution has clearly failed to prove its point and establish its case. That is the main reason for acquittal of all the accused.[6]

Now needs to be mentioned here that around 122 licenses have been cancelled here and has caused huge loss not only in the way of business but also in a way of goodwill in the country.

Hundreds of thousands of investors have lost their precious money which they invested in this project or in the company dealing with this spectrum.

Recently, another appeal was filed by the CBI where they wanted to reopen the case, Mr. V. Agarwal has told the court that it is not possible to review a data as big as 26 GB. These are special circumstances and a responsible department as CBI should understand that until they get a very substantial evidence which can prove that the accused were convicted wrongly, they should not approach the court.

The defense highlighted that there are already lot of pending cases in the court and there is no reason was CBI petition should be given importance until there is some important thing that has come up in the case.

He has concluded by saying that the government should try and devise a plan to compensate all those who have served sentences for no reason, who have faced financial losses and most importantly those who have lost their dreams because of cancellation of projects. Instead of alleging losses, proper assessment must be made to get knowledge of all losses that the companies have faced and they must be duly compensated. [7]

The report put forward should have only be taken as a mathematical report only and not a basis for conviction.

The most important point raised by the lawyer was the role of media, he said that media is considered to be 4th pillar in our democracy but the way it was portrayed and shown to people it made people believe that all of the accused were already convicts.

They mentioned them as convicted and treated them in the same way, media hypnotized the opinion of the people and made them believe that there was a scam even before it was proved. It felt that the whole country has forgot the principal that nobody is guilty until proven so.

Looking at the facts of the case, it is difficult to come to conclusion whether there was a scam or not, but we all have to respect the court’s decision and the way it stands it is quite clear that all the accused were innocent and this was not a scam but just a mathematical error.

As the defense lawyer said that ‘It was all smoke and no fire’. Let’s see if any new events unfurl in future but as of today this is the truth and we have to accept this

 

  1. ‘What is the difference between 2G,3G,4G LTE and 5G networks?, Rant Cell, accessed on 11/10/2020, https://www.rantcell.com/comparison-of-2g-3g-4g-5g.html.

  2. Ibid

  3. Maanvi, ‘2G Scam: How the CAG Report gave is a number for Corruption’, accessed on 12/10/2020 https://www.thequint.com/videos/news-videos/2g-spectrum-scam-verdict-a-raja-cag-report-vinod-rai-kanimozhi

  4. ‘How the scam unfolded’, (30th July,2011), accessed on 13/10/2020 https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/cover-story/story/20110808-2g-spectrum-scam-a-raja-747066-2011-07-30

  5. ‘Prosecution miserably failed to prove any charge: 2G spectrum case’ (21st December,2017) accessed on 14/10/2020 at https://www.thehinducentre.com/resources/article9998732.ece

  6. Subhajti Sengupta & Suhas Munshi, ‘2G Scam Explained’ accessed on 14/10/2020 at https://www.news18.com/news/immersive/2g-scam-explained.html

  7. Shoaib Daniyal, ‘If there was no 2G Scam, why did the Supreme Court cancel 122 spectrum licenses in 2012?’ (22nd December, 2017) accessed on 14/10/2020 at https://scroll.in/article/862349/if-there-was-no-2g-scam-why-did-the-supreme-court-cancel-122-licenses-in-2012