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No 2G scam: As CBI court acquits all accused, Etisalat lawyer Vijay Sondhi predicts appeal is all but certain

Luthra partner Vijay Sondhi welcomes exoneration of client but adds prosecution appeal likely
Luthra partner Vijay Sondhi welcomes exoneration of client but adds prosecution appeal likely

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal declared to the media that he had been proven right by the CBI court that acquitted all of the accused in the 2G Spectrum case yesterday after six years since the case was filed, reported The Wire.

More than 25 advocates were present and arguing including senior advocates Anand Grover for the Enforcement Directorate, Pinaki Misrafor Karim Morani and Cineyug Media and Entertainment, Shunmugasundaram for MK Dayalu, P Amirtham and Kalaignar TV, Rebecca John for Kanimozhi Karunanithi.

Luthra & Luthra litigation partner Vijay Sondhi acted and argued for Etisalat DB Telecom, formerly known as Swan Telecom, and said he welcomed the verdict, commenting: “The judge has upheld the rule of law by strictly following the law of evidence and was not at all effected by the media. In any case, there was no illegality committed by my client, Etisalat.”

When asked whether a prosecution appeal against the acquittal was likely, he said “for sure”, and when asked to speculate on the grounds of appeal, he noted: “They may argue that available evidence was good enough for conviction but the judge has not appreciated the evidence.”

Observer Research Foundation fellow Mihir Sharma wrote on NDTV:

It is entirely possible that this brave judgment will not survive. After all, the higher judiciary in India may justifiably feel called upon to preserve institutional credibility. The Supreme Court has already cancelled more than a hundred 2G licences, citing arbitrariness; at the same time it noticeably unburdened itself of criticism of a policy choice that was otherwise generally supposed to in be the domain of the executive. Nobody can speak as to the Supreme Court’s future course of action, but it is rare indeed for any high institution in India to reverse itself in the manner the trial court judgment might imply to onlookers that it could. All that we commoners can repeat is the facts: that the 2G licence judgment penalised those who bought licences in good faith, that it created permanent uncertainty about the Indian policy environment globally, and that it added years-later judicial activism to the risk factors that investors consider. It is clear in retrospect that cancellation of licences had an effect on the investment climate, which is precisely what was warned at the time as well. The Indian economy is yet to recover not just from the cancellation, but also from the public hysteria and moral panic that marked the period. It is that which created policy paralysis and the investment crisis that continues to this day - not any supposed corruption.

Special CBI Judge OP Saini ruled through a 105-page judgment that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had failed miserably in proving the charges in the case regarding irregularities in the allocation of second-generation spectrum licenses for mobile communications and limited data transmission.

Congress-leader Sibal, who was telecom minister during the alleged scam, reportedly commented: “I have been proven right. There was no corruption, no loss. If there was a scam it was a scam of lies which was woven together by the then opposition and former CAG Vinod Rai. Rai needs to apologise to the entire nation”

Unitech’s Sanjay Chandra, Essar’s Ravi Ruia, Reliance’s Gautam Doshi, then telecom secretary Siddharth Behura and Raja’s private secretary R.K. Chandolia, then telecom minister A. Raja and DMK MP M.K. Kanimozhi were the accused against whom charged were cleared.


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