The Supreme Court’s judgment will ensure transparency in the corporate world
Most of the people in the North East are not aware that one of their illustrious sons was among those who had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court of India concerning the country’s largest ever scam involving illegal sale of the scare 2nd Generation Spectrum at a throwaway price. James Michael Lyngdoh, 73, is of Khasi origin and son of a district judge of Meghalaya. He had studied at St Stephen’s College in Delhi, joined the coveted Indian Administrative Service (IAS) at the age of 22 and had to undergo a lot of harassment for refusing to dance to the tune of powerful and corrupt politicians. After serving various ministries and departments, he was appointed one of the three Election Commissioners in 1997 and became the Chief Election Commissioner for three years from 2001. Even after superannuation, he does not sit idle. He was entrusted by the Supreme Court with the task of formulating the guidelines on the conduct of elections to the student unions in universities which had been marred by muscle and money power. He has been honoured for his public service with the prestigious Roman Magsaysay Award.
Besides Lyngdoh, there were two other former Chief Election Commissioners, one ex- Naval Chief and retired DIG of Punjab and Gujarat were among the petitioners in addition to former Union Minister Dr Subramanian Swamy and lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
After the judgment given by a two - judge bench, one of the petitioners has rightly said that the Supreme Court has recognized the spirit in which they had approached the apex court and lauded them. It hailed the “vigilance of some enlightened citizens” for saving scarce natural resources from being grabbed by those having manipulative skills and “money power.” “But for the vigilance of some enlightened citizens who held important constitutional and other positions and discharged their duties in larger public interest and non-governmental organizations which have been constantly fighting for clean governance and accountability of the constitutional institutions, unsuspecting citizens and the nation would never have known how scarce natural resource spared by the Army has been grabbed by those who enjoy money power and who have been able to manipulate the system.” The Bench comprising G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly in a written note has given credit to all the petitioners. The Union Finance Ministry is working out the financial implication of the Supreme Court judgment cancelling 122 telecom licenses on the banking sector. “We have to see the implication. Officers are working on the impact of judgment on the banks. We will soon have a clear picture,” a senior finance Ministry official said. Nationalized banks including the State Bank of India have given money to Cellular operators. Besides SBI, other lenders include ICICI, Punjab National Bank and IDBI which have provided loans to purchase the spectrum cancelled by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has cancelled 122 2 G spectrum licenses granted by former Telecom Minister A Raja “in a totally arbitrary and unconstitutional manner.” Imposing a fine of `5 crore each on three telecom companies which offloaded their shares after getting the licenses, the court directed regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to make fresh recommendations on allocation of 2G licenses.
The Opposition described the decision on 2G scam as one which raises serious questions on the credibility, transparency and integrity of the UPA Government and demanded the resignation of Home Minister P Chidambaram for his alleged role in it. The Opposition parties also said that after the Supreme Court’s order, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “can not escape” the political responsibility as he heads the government.
|It is a historic judgment since this judgment will send a strong signal to the entire country and in particular the corporate world that this country is no longer willing to allow these corrupt corporates and the corrupt public officials to retain the benefits of illegal and corrupt acts|
The 2G scam is the biggest ever scam since independence in India. The entire country was deeply agitated and shocked by it. But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Ministers Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram defended the 2G spectrum allocation and stated there was no wrongdoing, BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said. Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said that even after the CAG pointed to wrongdoings, the government had defended the then Telecom Minister A Raja. The decision of the government to allot 2G licenses has been declared illegal and unconstitutional by the highest court of the country. It was not the decision of one person but the decision of the government, he said. What is not plausible is that that the third time Lok Sabha Member from Tamil Nadu A Raja could have single handedly sold spectrum on the first cum first served formula in 2008 at the rate prevailing in 2001. Whom is the Government is trying to make a fool out of by arguing day after day in the country’s highest court that the then Minister for Telecommunications alone with his officials had been involved in the one lakh seventy-six lakh crore INR scam? The Government’s chief auditor Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had arrived at the presumptive colossal loss. Instead of acknowledging the huge scam, some Union Ministers and supporters of the ruling party are making fun of the CAG which is a constitutional body. What will they say now after the Apex court has found that there is indeed loss to the national exchequer since the disbursement of spectrum was not conducted in a fair and transparent manner?
The Supreme Court’s order has smashed the Prime Minister’s theory that past practices were followed. The Supreme Court’s decision also smashes the theory of Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal that there was ‘zero loss’ to the Government of India due to the 2G allocation. Opposition parties have a point when they say Raja must have consulted the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram on the issue related to the sale of 2G Spectrum. The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, who is also a noted lawyer, asserts that the former Finance Minister Chidambaram had given consent to the 2G Spectrum allocation on first come first served basis instead of auctioning. All those involved in the issuance of licenses were answerable not only politically and morally but legally also. The Supreme Court had directed that the matter against Chidambaram be considered by the special court. But the Special Judge of the CBI Court O P Saini after hearing the principal petitioner Dr Swamy has rejected his plea to make Chidambaram co-accused along with Raja in the spectrum case. The opposition also demands clarification from the Prime Minister, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi on the 2G issue after the judgment.
|Whom is the Government is trying to make a fool out of by arguing day after day in the country’s highest court that the then Minister for Telecommunications alone with his officials had been involved in the one lakh seventy-six lakh crore INR scam?|
The Supreme Court’s Order on 2G case is historic. It will send a strong signal to the corrupt corporate and public officials who retain the benefits of illegal acts. “It is a historic judgment since this judgment will send a strong signal to the entire country and in particular the corporate world that this country is no longer willing to allow these corrupt corporates and the corrupt public officials to retain the benefits of illegal and corrupt acts,” senior lawyer and social activist Prashant Bhushan, one of the petitioners, says. The judgment will also help change the nature in which corruption is dealt with. The judgment will help the public exchequer recover losses caused due to illegally granting of the 2G licenses. The beneficiaries will have to refund their illegitimate benefits through illegal licenses. The 122 licenses have been given by A Raja for more than `9,000 crore INR in 2008 and the 3G auctions for smaller number of licenses had helped Centre receive a sum of `69,000 crore two years later. The Supreme Court’s judgment cancelling all 121 licenses upholds the Rule of Law for the government, industry, banks and will enhance India’s global reputation and help the consumer in the long run. The judgment should not be misinterpreted as such that mobile subscribers will have to move to other operators in their circles over the next four months. However, a reduction in competition could trigger a further increase in tariffs which went up 30 per cent last year because of the failure of the new entrants to roll out services. India is a fast emerging economy in the world. We need transparency in trade and commerce so that all national and international trading partners are assured of level playing field.
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