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DNA Edit: A Zero-Sum trial

Years wasted, business ventures stalled/finished, reputations tarred -in some cases, forever. This, in 11 words, is the sum and substance of what we all know as the 2G scam, post the judgement delivered by Special CBI Judge OP Saini on Thursday morning.Was there a scam? Yes, most certainly. After all, rules aren’t changed overnight, unless to give undue advantage to somebody. But, it was the CBI’s and Enforcement Directorate’s job to follow the leads and deliver a water-tight case. That they didn’t proves, for the nth time, that the country’s premier investigating agencies don’t deserve the “premier” tag.Was the scam really worth Rs 1.76 lakh crore? Ask Vinod Rai, the then Comptroller and Auditor General of India, who came out with this figure.Today, when the Special CBI Judge OP Saini acquitted every accused, including politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats in the 2G spectrum allocation case dating back to the UPA-1 era, the main question that requires an immediate answer is: Who killed the telecom sector, or at least pushed it back by several years? Shouldn’t Rai be answering questions on the ‘presumptive loss’ theory? Shouldn’t the CBI and ED officers be held accountable for the shoddy probe that has allowed the accused to get away?A single sentence in the 1,552-page judgment is enough to indict the CBI and ED: “However, by the end, the quality of prosecution totally deteriorated and it became directionless and diffident.”It is not without reason that Judge Saini laments: “For the last seven years, on all working days, summer vacation included, I religiously sat in the open court from 10 am to 5pm, waiting for someone with legally admissible evidence in his possession, but all in vain. Everybody was going by rumour, gossip and speculation.”Another line in the judgment that merits some thought is: “Thus, some people created a scam by artfully arranging a few selected facts and exaggerating things beyond recognition to astronomical levels.”There are many who seem enraged by the fact that Judge Saini acquitted all the accused. They forget that a judge delivers a judgment on the basis of material before him, without falling for “rumour, gossip and speculation”. The job of convincing the court about the illegality and arbitrariness of a decision was left to the prosecution and its lawyers.Judges, not all unfortunately in these media-driven times, are seldom impressed by big numbers, unless they come with enough proof.Now that both CBI and ED have announced their intention to appeal against the judgment in the high court, one only hopes the premier agencies would do a better job there.

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Will not interfere in press freedom except in case of national security: Venkaiah Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The NDA government believes in freedom of press as it wants a vibrant media for betterment of democracy, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said.“We will never compromise on press freedom. The government will never interfere except when the issue relates to national security, unity and integrity of the country and the established social order comes under threat,” he said.The Modi government has come under fire over the recent CBI raids on the homes and head offices of Delhi-based NDTV.Many journalists have termed the incident as muzzling the press freedom.”You can see how much criticism the government faces from the media. Even the prime minister is criticised, but the government never meddles with it,” Naidu said.He said a Delhi-based national daily “never hesitates to write ‘worst’ on Narendra Modi.””But we have not reacted,” he said, adding giving a political colour to the NDTV case is “unfortunate”.Rejecting allegations of attack on freedom of press in the NDTV case, the BJP leader said, “The ongoing investigation against NDTV is in no way an attack on press freedom. It will be better if they (NDTV) cooperate with the ongoing probe.” The Union minister was here to attend a ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Bikas’ programme.”Is it wrong if there is a probe on an allegation against management or owner of a media company? Shouldn’t an allegation be probed?” he asked.He said the allegations against the NDTV were made way back in 2011-12 when Narendra Modi was in Gujarat.”The allegation was made when Manmohanji was the Prime Minister, Chidambaram a minister and Rahul Gandhi was managing the government,” he said.Meanwhile, a group of journalists here staged a demonstration during Naidu’s visit.

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