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Can 2G ‘scam’ architects BJP & ADMK speak with authority now?

Take Kanimozhi. Her son was 11 years old when she the case started, she had to be in Delhi for day-to-day trial over the last 7 years. Who will give back her the time she lost in the process.

Written by Manuraj Shunmugasundaram |
Updated: December 23, 2017 6:35:17 pm
Can 2G ‘scam’ architects BJP & ADMK speak with authority now ? DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi outside swarmed by reporters outside Parliament. She was acquitted by a special CBI court on Thursday in the 2G spectrum allocation case. (Express Photo/Praveen Jain)

The mother of all scams was that you were fooled in to thinking there was a scam where none existed.

There were 17 persons (including companies) accused in the 2G case instituted by the Central Bureau of Investigation and 19 persons (including companies) in the case prosecuted by the Directorate of Enforcement. The Special Court conduced day-to- day trial, under the monitoring of the Supreme Court, of all the cases and acquitted everyone of all charges, vide judgments running into 1552 pages and 105 pages, respectively.

For the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), the 2G case has been another in the list of unproven allegations. When MG Ramachandran walked out of the DMK in 1972, he levelled allegations of corruption and mishandling of party funds. Yet, nothing was proved on these allegations. In 2001, Jayalalitha, soon after being sworn in as Chief Minister, ordered the midnight arrest of M Karunanidhi on the charges of allegations in the construction of flyovers. So weak was the case, it was not even taken it to trial.

In 2011, the 2G case, filed before the Special Court in Patiala House Courts, included members of the DMK. In 2017, all of them have been acquitted. Along with them, the DMK party stands exonerated; exonerated of all insinuations, innuendo, allegations and accusations. Can the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) – chief architects of the scam – speak with similar moral authority? Have not Bangaru Laxman and J Jayalalithaa been convicted by courts of law on charges of corruption?

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The truth is that politics is a battle of perception. A perception of pervasive corruption was created by the DMK’s political rivals. The perception was created through a process of exaggeration, scandalisation and sensationalisation. When the Comptroller and Auditor General report was leaked in November 2010, then Minister A Raja came forward to step down from the Council of Ministers, in order to facilitate a fair probe. The entire case was diligently monitored by the Supreme Court, including the filing of the chargesheet and the appointment of the Special Public Prosecutor. Regular updates and progress reports were periodically filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation, Directorate of Enforcement and Income Tax Department before the Supreme Court. There has been more media coverage of this case than possibly any other. To understand the significance of the acquittal, the judgment must be seen against the backdrop of the most stringent media, executive and judicial scrutiny. For those legal luminaries to now claim that the judgment has not considered certain aspects, it would be advisable to first peruse the nearly 4 lakh pages of documentary and oral evidence.

On a larger point, our political discourse needs to change. It needs to evolve from that of mud-slinging and media-hyping. BJP and ADMK had declared this to be a “scam” when the case was still in trial. Today, the shoe is on the other foot. As responsible opposition parties, DMK and Congress need to set a higher standard than the BJP or ADMK. Politicians need to realize that they are hurling allegations and maligning reputations of people with families and lives. Take Kanimozhi: her son was 11 years old when she the case started, she had to be in Delhi for day-to-day trial over the last 7 years. Who will give back her the time she lost in the process? What about the months of imprisonment she, and others, had to undergo? Can the CBI and ED be sued for malicious prosecution?

When DMK President Karunanidhi was arrested on trumped up charges in 2001, he was taken before the Magistrate at the early hours of the morning. A journalist from Tamil magazine Nakeeran, who was present at the residence of the Magistrate, passed him a piece of white paper and asked if there was something he wanted to tell the people of the state. Karunanidhi scribbled the following words: “Aneethi veezhum, Aram vellum.” translated as “Injustice will fall. Dharma shall prevail”. The words have rung true, time and again.

 

Manuraj Shunmugasundaram is a spokesperson of the DMK and an advocate in the Madras High Court. He tweets @manuraj1983

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