CBI Court to Announce Fate of Top India Inc, Political Leaders in 2G Verdict Tomorrow

Top India Inc officials facing charges include the Ruias of Essar group, Sanjay Chandra, promoter of Unitech, top officials of the Anil Ambani group and Shahid Balwa of DB Realty.

Former telecom minister A. Raja. Credit: PTI

Former telecom minister A. Raja. Credit: PTI

The CBI court in New Delhi will be pronouncing its verdict on the 2G scam on Thursday and decide the fate of many top India Inc and political leaders. The top officials of India Inc facing the charges include the Ruias of Essar group, Sanjay Chandra, promoter of Unitech, top officials of Anil Ambani group and Shahid Balwa of DB Realty.

The judge would also decide the future of the then telecom minister, A. Raja, and the then Department of Telecom secretary, Siddartha Behura, as well as Raja’s former personal secretary R.K. Chandolia.

While the CBI court will decide on the fraud and conspiracy charges, in February 2012, the Supreme Court had cancelled over 122 licences including of Loop Telecom, Swan Telecom, Unitech among others. The Supreme Court judgment had not spared even the top corporates of India Inc including Tata Teleservices, Idea Cellular and Videocon that lost lucrative wireless telephony licenses.

Of the eight companies which lost licences, only Idea Cellular survived the telecom sector storm which was triggered by Raja deciding in September 2008 that the licenses will be given on a “First come, first served” basis. The cancellation of licenses resulted in the closure of most of the companies with thousands of employees losing jobs. Banks are still grappling with the loans granted to these companies to buy equipment and licenses and spectrum.

The first-come-first-served policy came under severe criticism by the comptroller and auditor general, who pegged the Indian government’s notional revenue loss at Rs 175,000 crore. In December 2010, the Supreme Court castigated Raja for bypassing and overruling then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ‘s advice to defer allocation of 2G spectrum by a few days and asked the Centre to consider setting up of a special court to try the 2G spectrum scam case. In February 2011, Raja, Behura and Chandolia were arrested for faulty policy which resulted in a loss to the Indian government.

While a number of India Inc leaders including Unitech chairman Sanjay Chandra, Shahid Balwa of DB Realty and Gautam Doshi of the ADAG group were incarcerated in Tihar jail, they are currently out on bail. The fate of these top guns will be decided on Thursday.

In its verdict in 2012, the apex court made it clear that in the future, all government resources including the spectrum used by the mobile phone companies to offer services should be auctioned.

Who lost what?

Company No of Licences*
Unitech 22
Sistema 21
Loop Mobile 21
Videocon 21
Etisalat-DB (Swan) 15
Idea 13
S-Tel 6
Tata Tele 3

* Licenses cancelled by SC

By arrangement with Business Standard.