Acquitted by the CBI special court, former Telecom Secretary and a co-accused in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, Siddharth Behura, has said that decision-making in the bureaucracy has been a casualty in the wake of action against officers like him.
“Even today I would have done the same thing. I don’t think I did any wrong and I simply followed procedures,” Behura told The Indian Express. “The biggest collateral of the entire proceedings have been institutions and the decision-making within the bureaucracy. No officer wants to take a decision as they fear they may be accused of wrongdoing or corruption later,” he added.
The December 21 judgment pronounced by O P Saini, CBI Special Judge, does not point to any wrong-doing on his part. “If authorities needed me for their investigation, they could have called me for questioning. I still don’t know why I was arrested and behind bars for 15 months,” he said. Behura was in Tihar jail between February 2011 and May 2012 and was released after he got bail from the Supreme Court.
Behura joined Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in Ministry of Communications & Information Technology as Secretary (Telecom) on Jan 1, 2008, almost eight months after A Raja took over as Telecom minister. In August 2007, the DoT initiated the process of allotment of 2G spectrum along with Unified Access Services.
The CBI alleged that A Raja, in conspiracy with Siddhartha Behura, falsified records (relating to the manner in which Letter of Intent was to be issued to applicants) to cheat the Department of Telecommunications by manipulating the allocation of new licences and thereby wrongfully benefited accused persons and companies.
In fact, the prosecution argued that Raja and Behura were custodians of spectrum and they breached the trust reposed by the Government by illegally allocating it. The judge, however, said: “Perusal of evidence reveals that there is absolutely no evidence at all showing any ingredients of the offence of criminal breach of trust. Accordingly, there is no evidence at all showing commission of offence of criminal breach of trust by any of the accused.” Declining to comment on the then CAG’s claims of loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore, Behura said that was for the government to look into. He said the case was still not over with the CBI expected to challenge the verdict in High Court.