The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has accused Special Judge O.P. Saini of being directionless and diffident while delivering his verdict in a 2G Spectrum case linked to former telecom minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader A. Raja.
In its appeal filed before the Delhi High Court in March this year, the CBI said Special Judge O.P. Saini "had not applied his mind" while delivering his verdict in the 2G case last December, which ensured the acquittal of Raja and others in what it called one of the biggest scams to hit the country.
The CBI further said that Special Judge Saini had made the mistake of taking the statements of all of the accused as "gospel truth" and ignoring the material evidence available as well the statements of reliable witnesses.
Special Judge Saini had acquitted Raja, his party colleague Kanimozhi and several top corporate honchos, including Unitech Managing Director Sanjay Chandra, D B Realty chief Shahid Balwa and others on December 21, 2017, while accusing the CBI of failing to prove its case.
He also concluded that the charges filed against the accused by the CBI were based on "rumour, gossip and speculation".
In its defence, the CBI reiterated that the impugned judgment suffered from serious infirmities and did not reflect "much application of mind with regard to the
interdependence of documentary evidence, witness statements and the backdrop of the case".
The CBI petition before the Delhi High Court further stated that Judge Saini ignored testimonies of reliable witnesses, including then Solicitor General G E Vahanvati, former telecom secretary D S Mathur and Asheervatham Achary, former additional private secretary to Raja, among others.
He also committed a grave error by wrongly interpreting provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA), stating that once the accused are acquitted in connection with a scheduled offence, they have to be acquitted for the offence of money laundering, as once the crime goes, there can't be any offence for having the proceeds of crime, which is completely erroneous and contrary to the schemes and provisions of PMLA 2002.
The CBI said Judge Saini erroneously proceeded on a piecemeal analysis of the evidence regarding the conspiracy and had a distinct lack of appreciation of it.
The CBI also maintained that A. Raja had abused his office and had completely ignored the telecom department's need for providing reasonable time to applicants to meet criteria for applying for 2G Spectrum. This, the trial judge had failed to consider.
It also said that the defence provided by Raja was a complete "eye wash" and that he had deposed before court falsely. It asked why Judge Saini had ignored this fact.
It said that the trial court had failed to appreciate that the investigation for the offence of money laundering is not like a police investigation. Under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the statements recorded by the police or CBI under Section 161 of CRPC are not admissible as evidence.
It said in its petition that the trial court had failed to appreciate that the complaint of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) with regard to a money laundering offence in spite of the existence of independent documentary evidence that clearly established a money trail showing A Raja had made wrongful gain and loss to the public exchequer.