All incriminating acts were allegedly done by Raja, DoT officials: Saini

Dismissing Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy's prayer seeking prosecution of Home Minister P. Chidambaram in the 2G spectrum case, the special court here on Saturday ruled that a decision taken by a public servant did not become criminal for the simple reason that it had caused loss to the public exchequer or resulted in pecuniary advantage to others.

While Special Judge O.P. Saini agreed with Dr. Swamy that there was material on record to prove that Mr. Chidambaram told the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, that there was “no need to revisit” the spectrum pricing discovered in 2001 and the decision was subsequently conveyed to the Prime Minister, he said no evidence was submitted to show that Mr. Chidambaram was “acting mala fide” in fixing the price at the 2001 level or permitting equity dilution. The judge said this was in contrast to the CBI's case where incriminating material was on the court's record against the 17 accused.

“These two acts are not per se illegal and there is no further material on record to show any other incriminating act on the part of Mr. P. Chidambaram. A decision taken by a public servant does not become criminal for the simple reason that it has caused loss to the exchequer or resulted in pecuniary advantage to others. Merely attending meetings and taking decisions therein is not a criminal act. It must have the taint of use of corrupt or illegal means or abuse of his official position by public servant for obtaining pecuniary advantage for himself or for any other person or obtaining of pecuniary advantage by him without any public interest. There is no material on record to suggest that Mr. Chidambaram was acting with such corrupt or illegal motives or was in abuse of his official position, while consenting to the two decisions. There is no evidence that he obtained any pecuniary advantage without any public interest. I may add that there is such incriminating material against other accused persons, who stand charged and are facing trial,” Mr. Saini said.

The judge also pointed out that in a case of criminal conspiracy, the court had to see whether two persons were independently pursuing the same end or were acting together in pursuit of an unlawful act. “One may be acting innocently and [the] other may be actuated by criminal intention. Innocuous, inadvertent or innocent acts do not make one party to the conspiracy.”

Further, Mr. Saini observed there were neither allegations nor evidence against Mr. Chidambaram to the effect that he played any role in the subversion of the process of issuance of letters of intent (LOI), UAS licences, and allocation of spectrum in 2007-08. “The subversion of the process of issuance of letters of intent, UAS licences and allocation of spectrum included [the] arbitrary fixation of the cut-off date, filing and procuring of applications for UAS licences on behalf of ineligible companies, violation of the first-come, first-served policy in the issuance of LOIs, UAS licences and allocation of spectrum, and payment and receipt of bribe.”

Mr. Saini added that “all these incriminating acts” were allegedly done by Mr. Raja and officials of the Department of Telecommunications, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and by private persons.

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