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Court quashes 2G plea against Chidambaram

Delhi court rejected Subramanian Swamy's petition to make the Home Minister an accused in 2G case; petitioner says he will move the apex court within a month

The UPA government and P Chidambaram, who with a resignation letter in hand, remained glued to the TV, heaved a collective sigh of relief after a Delhi court ruled that the home minister did not indulge in any criminal conspiracy or derive any pecuniary advantage in the decisions made by former telecom minister A Raja.


Subramanian Swamy talks to the media outside Patiala House Court in
New Delhi, after the verdict was delivered on Saturday. Pic/ Rajeev Tyagi


The court order
The trial court, hearing the 2G case, turned down the petition of Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy, wherein he had sought to prosecute Chidambaram for various offences including criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Swamy had also alleged that despite being ineligible, Unitech Wireless and Swan Telecom were awarded licences and were allowed to offload their shares to Etisalat and Telenor. Reading the order, the trial court judge said, "There is no evidence on record that he was acting in pursuit of the criminal conspiracy, while being party to the two decisions regarding non-revision of the spectrum pricing and dilution of equity by the two companies. Accordingly, I do not find any sufficient ground for proceeding against P Chidambaram. The plea is without any merit and the same is dismissed."

Swamy adamant
Leaving the trial court Swamy said he was surprised with the verdict and would approach higher courts. "I am surprised. If I lose in one court, I will appeal in another. I don't know the reasons for the dismissal. Higher courts have also rejected my earlier petitions in 2G cases. I will give more evidence next time. If the CBI will not give evidence, I will. I just wanted him to be made the co-accused," he rued.

The trial in the 2G case is scheduled to resume from February 17. The Supreme Court on February 2, 2012, cancelled all 122 2G licences and referred the issue of whether Chidambaram's role should be investigated back to the trial court.

Apart from being a big relief for Chidambaram, the verdict is also the first good news for the Congress in a long time. The verdict is crucial for the party as it comes at a time when it is fighting elections in five states, including UP.

Party speak
The court order was followed by a flurry of reactions from the elated Congress party members and the Union Home Minister himself. Chidambaram told a TV channel soon after the court order that he was very happy with the decision. "Had it not been so (if the order went against him), my resignation was already ready."

Companies to seek redressal
According to some media reports on Saturday, irate international investors in telecom companies, whose mobile phone permits were cancelled by the SC on Thursday, may sue the Indian government for damages in a global forum.  This implies, they can approach the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law or the World Bank-affiliated International Centre for Settlement of Investment Dispute for legal redressal.

The Sistema Shyam spokesperson said to safeguard its interests, Sistema will contest this order by pursuing all available legal remedies.

Telenor chief executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas told Reuters that the company had committed a total of $3 billion in investments in India and it would enlist the help the Norwegian government to fight its case.

Timeline

>> 10 am Subramanian Swamy reaches Patiala House Court.
>> 10.10 am Court asks him to be back at 12:30 pm,.
>> 12.30 PM Swamy enters court along with his wife. Others are not allowed to enter.
>> 1 pm His two counsels, the media and others are allowed to enter the court.
>> 1.35 pm Court pronounces its order.

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