Thursday, 4 January 2018

Anil Ambani on (mental) torture & trauma of 2G corruption investigation where court after over 6 years acquitted all accused; My view: Unfair attitude of Indian media & people to treat accused as guilty

I went through torture... It’s not for the ordinary. You have to be tempered like steel, says Anil Ambani, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/i-went-through-torture-its-not-for-the-ordinary-you-have-to-be-tempered-like-steel-says-anil-ambani/articleshow/62359394.cms, 4th Jan 2018.

Fascinating interview of Mr. Anil Ambani who faced tough times with the 2G supposed scam which resulted in horrific levels of criminal prosecution threats to top businessmen in the country and some minister(s) and civil servants in the Telecom area, but who eventually were judged as NOT guilty by the CBI court after an over six and a half years process. Not a single accused was held guilty by the CBI court. Even though Anil Ambani personally had only a relatively short 8 hour interaction with the CBI on this investigation, some of his company colleagues were even imprisoned, and even his wife was questioned. Anil Ambani says of the CBI investigation and CBI court process toll it took on him: "I went through that experience of torture, trauma, mental agony, mental stress— these are life-changing experiences. They are not for the ordinary. You have to be tempered like steel".

Note that three top executives of Anil Ambani's company were arrested on 20th April 2011, granted bail on 24th November 2011 (after over 7 months in jail), and were acquitted on 21st December 2017 (over six and a half years after they were initially arrested). [Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2G_spectrum_scam#Gautam_Doshi.]

As an Indian citizen, I do feel that there was an atmosphere of a witch-hunt when it came to the 2G supposed scam investigation, with the media going berserk showing pics, audio and video clips of ministers and top businessmen of India being brought to CBI or even jail or leaks of private conversations. Surely the media would have raked in the moolah with their coverage of the 2G witch hunt.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2G_spectrum_scam

On 2 February 2012, the Supreme Court of India ruled on a public interest litigation (PIL) related to the 2G spectrum allocation. The court declared the allotment of spectrum "unconstitutional and arbitrary", cancelling the 122 licenses issued in 2008 under A. Raja (Minister of Communications & IT from 2007 to 2009), the primary official accused. According to the court, Raja "wanted to favour some companies at the cost of the public exchequer" & "virtually gifted away important national asset[s]."
--- end wiki extract ---

So the Supreme Court decision in response to the PIL, to cancel the 122 licenses and its view that Raja "virtually gifted away important national asset[s]" tell us that there were significant problems/issues with the 2G spectrum sale.

But was the process of investigation of charges against the accused fair? Were the accused given presumption of innocence by the media and by Indians in general? I am afraid the brutal answer is that the media and Indians in general believed the wild stories of corruption alleged in the 2G supposed scam WITHOUT SEEING EVIDENCE. I must clarify here that I am not saying that there was no scam in the sale of 2G spectrum. My honest assessment is that I don't know. There may have been corruption and even large scale corruption in 2G spectrum sale. But that corruption has to be proved in a court of law! That is the vital point. Just making allegations does not make the accused criminals!

The crux of a corruption case, I guess, would be proving that bribe money (or equivalent favours) was paid directly or indirectly to the accused. I think the investigation agencies failed to prove that in court.

Mind you, the 2G spectrum sale alleged corruption was a big election matter in the 2014 General elections which swept away the incumbent UPA alliance led by the Congress and swept in the NDA alliance led by BJP to power. But that is politics. Making allegations as part of political campaigns is one thing. What the criminal investigative agencies and the media do with accusations of criminal acts of corruption against top business people and top minister(s) and civil servants, is another. In the latter case, the media and Indian people at large, must UPHOLD the principle of presumption of innocence and not paint accused people as guilty well before a court of law has declared them to be guilty.

After the 2G supposed scam that hit his company, came the "Jio tsunami" which put severe pressure on Anil Ambani's telecom company. That pushed him to take the tough decision to sell important parts of his company to his elder brother Mukesh Ambani's Jio company. The interview gives Mr. Anil Ambani's views on that too.

All in all, it is a very interesting read.

[I thank wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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