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2G Judgement of Trial Court; Travesty of Truth and Justice

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” The recent judgment of the Trial Court in the matter of 2G scam denotes yet another failure of the conscience and consciousness of the nation because it did not invoke enough strong protest from the general public. Political expediency should not be allowed to sabotage and suppress the truth and allow the perpetrators of a crime to go unpunished. It has been a common feature that the perpetrators are allowed to escape with impunity especially if such crimes are done by the very representatives elected by the people of this country to perpetuate and protect the motto of this nation “SATYAMEVA JAYATE”.

The Committee on Reforms of the Criminal Justice System was constituted by the Government of India; Ministry of Home Affairs by its order dated 24 November 2000, to consider measures for revamping the Criminal Justice System and submitted their report during March 2003. Ironically the report starts with a quote of the French Thinker and Writer Andre Gide, “Everything has been said already, but as no one listens, we must always begin again.” and the report under “TRUTH AND JUSTICE” starts with the quotes,Truth does not pay homage to any society ancient or modern. But society has to pay homage to truth or perish” (Swami Vivekananda.).

The relevant portion of the report states: 2.16.1. The Indian ethos accords the highest importance to truth. The motto Satyameva Jayate (Truth alone succeeds) is inscribed in our National Emblem “Ashoka Sthambha”. Our epics extol the virtue of truth. Gandhiji gave us truth – as the righteous means to achieve independence by launching the movement of Satyagraha.

“2.16.8. In practice however we find that the Judge, in his anxiety to demonstrate his neutrality opts to remain passive and truth often becomes a casualty. Failure to ascertain truth may be on account of errors or omissions on the part of the investigation agency, the prosecution or the faulty attitude of the parties, the witnesses or inadequacies in the principles and laws regulating the system. There is no provision in the Code which expressly imposes a duty on the court to search for truth. It is a general feeling that it is falsehood that often succeeds in courts”.

“2.16.9. Truth being the cherished ideal and ethos of India, pursuit of truth should be the guiding star of the Criminal Justice System. For justice to be done truth must prevail. It is truth that must protect the innocent and it is truth that must be the basis to punish the guilty. Truth is the very soul of justice. Therefore truth should become the ideal to inspire the courts to pursue. This can be achieved by statutorily mandating the courts to become active seekers of truth. It is of seminal importance to inject vitality into our system if we have to regain the lost confidence of the people. Concern for and duty to seek truth should not become the limited concern of the courts. It should become the paramount duty of everyone to assist the court in its quest for truth. It is the duty of a Court not only to do justice but also to ensure that justice is being done. Concern for and duty to seek truth should not become the limited concern of the courts. It should become the paramount duty of everyone to assist the court in its quest for truth”.

The Supreme Court of India in their judgment of 2012 on 2G Spectrum case cancelled 122 spectrum licenses issued to telecom operators, at one stroke redrawing India’s telecom industry. The basic question involved was whether the Government had a right to distribute the natural resources and was it “fair and transparent” in accordance with the “fundamentals of the equality clause enshrined in the Constitution”. The method of allocation of the 2G spectrum was scrutinized by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to ascertain whether the then Union Minister Raja had acted in order to “favour some of the applicants”. In its order the Court made a scathing remark on Raja’s conduct when it observed “The material produced before the court shows that the Minister of C & IT wanted to favour some companies at the cost of the Public Exchequer” and continued “virtually gifted away the important national asset at throw away prices”. The unsavory action of corruption by the then Minister was proved by the subsequent actions of the some of the beneficiary companies on which the Supreme Court observed, “This becomes clear from the fact that soon after obtaining the licenses, some of the beneficiaries off-loaded their stakes to others, in the name of transfer of equity or infusion of fresh capital by foreign companies, and thereby made huge profits.” SC had also noted that “the exercise undertaken by the officers of D o T between September 2007 and March 2008, under the leadership of A Raja was wholly arbitrary, capricious and contrary to public interest apart from being violative of the doctrine of equality”.

Regarding the policy of ‘first cum first served’ the Supreme Court observed, “We have no doubt that if the method of auction had been adopted for grant of license which could be the only rational transparent method for distribution of national wealth, the nation would have been enriched by many thousand crores.” The Court also indicted such companies fining them heavily for having “benefited at the cost of Public Exchequer by a wholly arbitrary and unconstitutional action taken by the D o T for grant of UAS [Unified Access Services] Licenses [to firms operating cell phone services] and allocation of spectrum in 2G band and who off- loaded their stakes for many thousand crores in the name of fresh infusion of equity or transfer of equity”. While the Apex Court was especially scathing about the “first-come-first serve-policy” employed by the government and the fixing of cut-off dates, in one of the cases the Supreme Court observed, “This arbitrary action of the Minister of C&IT though appears to be innocuous, actually benefited some of the real estate companies who did not have any experience in dealing with telecom services and who had made applications only on 24.9.2007, i.e., one day before the cutoff date fixed by the Minister of C&IT on his own”.

Did not the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India go through all the evidences submitted by the prosecution and finding the culpability of the then Telecom Minister Raja proved beyond doubt passed such a judgment? But the Hon’ble Presiding Judge of the Trial Court nullified the judgment of the Apex Court based on the same evidences and acquitted all the accused. Is it not contravening the provision of Article 141 of the Constitution? Does it not conclusively prove the reality of what the opening quote “Everything has been said already, but as no one listens, we must always begin again” in the report on the Reforms of the Criminal Justice System which submitted to The Ministry of Home Affairs in the year 2003 is still being followed and practiced which emphasizes the “pursuit of truth should be the guiding star of the Criminal Justice System. For justice to be done truth must prevail” and that will “SATYAMEVA JAYATE” continue to be the casualty in the criminal justice system? In the 2G verdict of the Trial Court “SATYAMEVA JAYATE” is dead and Long Live “SATYAMEVA JAYATE”.

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