Karela Fry

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At last, one bright spot

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Cartoon by Surendran from the Hindu, Feb 4 2012

Thank you, Surendra and The Hindu for bringing cartoons back to newspapers. This is the kind of image which is worth a thousand words.

The Hindu reported the first judgment for exoneration of any one accused in India’s biggest scandal:

A special court here on Saturday dismissed the prayer of Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy for summoning the then Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, as an accused for allegedly conspiring with the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, in the 2G spectrum scam case.

Special Judge O.P. Saini said: “In the end, Mr. Chidambaram was party to only two decisions — that is, keeping the spectrum prices at [the] 2001 level and dilution of equity by the two companies. These two acts are not per se criminal [acts]. In the absence of any other incriminating act on his part, it cannot be said that he was prima facie party to the criminal conspiracy. There is no evidence on record that he was acting in pursuit of the criminal conspiracy, while being party to the two decisions. Accordingly, I do not find any sufficient ground for proceeding against Mr. Chidambaram. The plea is without any merit, and the same is dismissed.”

The court said there was no evidence on record to suggest an agreement between Mr. Chidambaram and Mr. Raja to “subvert [the] telecom policy and obtain pecuniary advantage for himself or for any other person.”

Mr. Saini observed: “There is no evidence of any substantive act being committed by him [Mr. Chidambaram]. A bit of evidence here and a bit there does not constitute prima facie evidence for showing prima facie existence of a criminal conspiracy. Anybody and everybody associated with a decision in any degree cannot be roped [in] as an accused. The role played by the decision-maker, [the] circumstances in which the decision was taken, and the intentions of the decision-maker are the relevant facts. Intention is to be inferred from the facts and circumstances of the case. One cannot be held guilty merely by association with a decision, and a decision by itself does not indicate criminality. There must be something more than mere association. Innocent and innocuous acts done in association with others do not make one a partner in crime, unless there is material to indicate otherwise, which is lacking in this case.”

The special court will continue further hearing on Dr. Swamy’s complaint on March 17.

The background was recalled in an article in the IE:

Underlining that there was no evidence of “criminal conspiracy” or “malafide” by Home Minister P Chidambaram in the 2G spectrum allocation, the court of Special CBI Judge O P Saini today dismissed an application by Subramanian Swamy to summon the then Finance Minister as an accused in the case.

This came two days after the Supreme Court’s order which asked the special court to decide on the matter. Swamy had approached the apex court with a similar petition calling for a CBI probe into what he called was Chidambaram’s role in the scam.

Saying his fight would continue, Swamy said: “I am surprised by the decision…I will certainly certainly appeal to the High Court. It is not the first time that I have had a lower court turn down a petition. In our system, the Supreme Court is the last word… There is no question of being disappointed.”

In an observation pertinent to policy-making given the CAG’s repeated references to losses, Judge Saini said: “A decision taken by a public servant does not become criminal for simple reason that it has caused loss to the public 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 by him for himself or for any other person or obtaining of pecuniary advantage by him without any public interest.”

The judge also said that Chidambaram was different from the other accused in the 2G case as he had not gained monetarily from his actions. “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.”

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

February 5, 2012 at 4:02 am

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