Not a badge of honour: Arun Jaitley

‘It was a corrupt and dishonest policy’

Published - December 22, 2017 01:31 am IST - NEW DELHI

Arun Jaitley talking to journalists in New Delhi  on Thursday.

Arun Jaitley talking to journalists in New Delhi on Thursday.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said the special CBI court’s acquittal of all accused in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case should not be treated as a “badge of honour.”

“The party’s [the Congress’s] ‘zero loss theory’ was proved to be wrong when the Supreme Court quashed the spectrum allocation in 2012. This was a corrupt and dishonest policy, which has already been upheld by the SC. Congress leaders are treating this judgment like a badge of honour and [as if] it was an honest policy,” he said.

Late in the evening, Mr. Jaitley met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the latter’s Lok Kalyan Marg residence for around 20 minutes where, government sources say, the fallout of the verdict was discussed. The Congress’s claim of a moral victory against charges of graft are a chief cause of worry for the BJP.

The BJP’s leaders are pinning their hopes on an appeal in the higher courts by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate.

Speaking to The Hindu , senior Ministers said there were several grounds on which the verdict could be appealed against, not least of which was the quashing of 122 telecom licences by the Supreme Court in 2012, and its finding that the allocations done in 2008 for a flat rate of ₹1,658 crore was “arbitrary, unreasonable and in violation of the norms and abuse of discretion by the Minister.”

“If the allocation was found to be arbitrary by the Supreme Court, how could the criminal trial court then acquit everyone,” said a senior Minister.

“The case was under the supervision of the Supreme Court which also appointed the public prosecutors in this case, namely, U.U. Lalit and later Anand Grover. The trial court is not the last word. In the light of the Supreme Court’s orders there is an extraordinary possibility of this being reversed at a higher court,” said the Minister. “ Congress ki teen chaar din ki chaandni hai [this is a temporary reprieve for the Congress],” he added.

As soon as the verdict was pronounced, Mr. Jaitley and other senior Ministers such as Ravi Shankar Prasad (Law), Manoj Sinha (Communication) and Ministers of State Jitendra Singh and Rajyavaradhan Rathore went into a huddle, along with Rajya Sabha member Bhupendra Yadav.

Mr. Jaitley, later, spoke to BJP spokespersons on the verdict. The effort was to overturn the perception that the UPA government had been wrongly persecuted. “Till now, the Congress has been holding on to an alibi of coalition compulsions forcing it to turn a blind eye to the scam, but by owning this verdict, they are diluting this very alibi and indicating that they were complicit,” said a senior BJP leader.

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