2G Spectrum Case: Special CBI Judge acquits all the accused in money laundering case too

Special CBI Court (2G Spectrum Cases): In the infamous 2G spectrum case, the Special Court of CBI has acquitted all 19 accused amongst whom former telecom minister A. Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi are also included. The verdict has been delivered on the basis of the charge-sheet framed by CBI and the Enforcement Directorate under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The prosecution had alleged that Mr. A. Raja received illegal gratification of Rs. 200 crore for favors granted by him to Swan Telecom (P) Limited (STPL) by issuing 13 licenses and allocating spectrum in the year 2008-09 and that this money was later shown as untainted by executing several commercial transaction documents.

In the 105 page long judgment, the Bench of OP Saini, J. observed that the ingredients of money laundering are: (a) commission of a scheduled offence; (b) “proceeds of crime”, i.e., property is derived by the accused as a result of criminal activity relating to such scheduled offence; and (c) such “proceeds of crime” are projected as untainted property. The Judge further went on to explain that “Proceeds of crime” is the essence and an indispensable element of the offence of money-laundering and is the core constituent of the offence. He said that it is only when “proceeds of crime” is projected or attempted to be projected as untainted property, the offence of money-laundering arises.”

On observing the settled position of law on this point, the Court noted that in a separate judgment all the accused have been acquitted in the case relating to schedule offences with the finding that the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, the Court held that in view of acquittal of accused in the case relating to schedule offence, there are no “proceeds of crime” and as explained that “proceeds of crime” is the foundational fact for the offence of money-laundering here can be no offence of money-laundering, as nothing remains to be laundered.

The Court finally decided that as there is no basis for the case to stand, the accused had to be acquitted. [ED v. A. Raja, Complaint Case No. 01/14, ECIR No. ECIR/31/DZ/2010, decided on 21.12.2017]

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