All accused in the 2G spectrum allocation scam cases - including former telecom minister A Raja and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP Kanimozhi - have been acquitted by a Special CBI court.
The verdict was announced on Thursday morning, nearly seven years after the first arrest was made by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2011.
The court had directed the accused to remain present before it today for the verdict.
The scam relates to the granting of 2G spectrum licence allocations in 2007-08 which caused, according to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
The 2G scam was among the major corruption scandals that came to light during the second term of the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh
Here is the chronology of events:
May 2007: A Raja takes over as Telecom Minister.
Aug 2007: Process of allotment of 2G Spectrum along with UAS Licences initiated by Department of Telecom (DoT).
Sept 25, 2007: Telecom Ministry issues press note fixing deadline for application as October 1, 2007.
Oct 1, 2007: DoT receives 575 applications by 46 firms.
Nov 2, 2007: PM writes to Raja to ensure fair licence allocation and proper revision of fee. Raja writes to PM allegedly rejecting many of his recommendations.
Nov 22, 2007: Finance Ministry writes to DoT raising concerns over the procedure adopted.
Jan 10, 2008: DoT decides to issue licences on first—come—first—serve basis (FCFS), preponing cut—off date to September 25. Later in the day, DoT says those who apply between 3.30 and 4.30 pm would be issued licences.
2008: Swan Telecom, Unitech and Tata Teleservices sell off a part of their stakes at much higher rates to Etisalat, Telenor and DoCoMo respectively.
May 4, 2009: NGO Telecom Watchdog complains to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on the illegalities in the 2G spectrum allocation to Loop Telecom.
2009: CVC directs CBI to investigate the matter.
July 1, 2009: Single judge of Delhi HC holds change of cut—off date as illegal. S—tel had moved the petition.
Oct 21, 2009: CBI files FIR against “unknown officers of DoT and unknown private persons/ companies and others“.
Oct 22, 2009: CBI raids DoT offices.
Nov 16, 2009: CBI seeks help from Directorate General of Income Tax for information on lobbyist Niira Radia and records pertaining to middlemen in award of 2G spectrum licences.
Nov 20, 2009: Information by IT dept shows role of corporate players in influencing policies of DoT via illegal means. Shows Radia directly in touch with Raja.
Mar 31, 2010: CAG report notes “whole process of issue of licence lacked fairness and transparency“.
May 6, 2010: Telephonic conversation between Raja and Radia made public by the media.
May 2010: Government constitutes GoM for allocation of 3G spectrum, reducing DoT under Raja as mere implementing body.
Aug 18, 2010: HC refuses to direct PM to decide on a complaint by Janata Party chief Swamy seeking sanction to prosecute Raja for his alleged involvement in 2G scam
Sept 13, 2010: SC asks government, Raja to reply within 10 days to three petitions alleging a Rs 70,000 crore scam in the grant of telecom licences in 2008.
Sept 24, 2010: Swamy moves SC seeking direction to PM to sanction prosecution of Raja.
Sept 27, 2010: Enforcement Directorate informs SC of probe against firms suspected to have violated FEMA. Says can’t deny or confirm now Raja’s involvement in the scam.
Oct 2010: SC asks government to respond to CAG report about the scam. Pulls up CBI for its tardy progress in probe.
Nov 10, 2010: CAG submits report on 2G spectrum to government stating loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to exchequer.
Nov 11, 2010: DoT files affidavit in SC; says CAG did not have the authority to question the policy decision as per which licence were issued to new players in 2008.
Nov 14—15, 2010: Raja resigns as Telecom Minister. Kapil Sibal given additional charge of Telecom Ministry.
Feb 10, 2011: SC asks CBI to bring under its scanner corporate houses which were beneficiaries of the 2G spectrum. Raja remanded to CBI custody for four more days by a special CBI court along with Balwa.
Feb 17—18, 2011: Raja sent to Tihar Jail under judicial custody. Balwa too jailed.
Feb 24, 2011: CBI tells Delhi Court Balwa facilitated transaction to DMK—run Kalaignar TV.
March 14, 2011: The Delhi High Court sets up special court to deal exclusively with 2G cases.
March 29, 2011: SC permits CBI to file charge sheet on April 2 instead of March 31. Two more persons — Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal arrested.
April 2, 2011: CBI files its first charge sheet. Names Raja, Chandolia and Behura. Reliance ADAG Group Managing Director Gautam Doshi, its senior Vice President Hari Nair, Group President Surendra Pipara, Swan Telecom Promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka and Managing Director of Unitech Ltd Sanjay Chandra made accused. Three companies — Reliance Telecom Ltd, Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd — also charge sheeted.
April 25, 2011: CBI files second charge sheet naming DMK chief M. Karunanidhi’s daughter and MP Kanimozhi, 4 others.
Oct 23, 2011: Charges framed against all 17 accused.
Nov 11, 2011: Trial begins.
Nov 23, 2011: SC grants bail to 5 corporate executives — Nair, Doshi, Pipara, Chandra and Goenka.
Nov 28, 2011: Delhi HC grants bail to Kanimozhi, Kumar, Morani, Asif and Rajiv.
Nov 29, 2011: Special court grants bail to Shahid Balwa
Dec 1, 2011: Chandolia gets bail from special court.
Dec 12, 2011: CBI files third charge sheet. Names Essar Group promoters Anshuman and Ravi Ruia, its director (Strategy and Planning) Vikas Saraf, Loop Telecom promoters Kiran Khaitan and her husband I P Khaitan. Also charge sheets Loop Telecom Pvt Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Tele Holding.
Jan 31, 2012: SC says filing complaint under the PC Act is a constitutional right and the competent authority should take a decision on giving the sanction within four months.
Feb 2, 2012: SC cancels 122 licences granted during Raja's tenure. Directs auctioning of licences in 4 months. SC leaves it to the special court to decide on Chidambaram within 2 weeks. | Verdict
Feb 2, 2012: SC refuses to ask CBI to probe role of Chidambaram in 2G case and leaves it to the Special Court to decide the matter.
Feb 4, 2012: Special Court dismisses Swamy's plea to make Chidambaram a co-accused.
Feb 23, 2012: Swamy moves SC against the trial court order on Chidambaram. NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation also files application seeking probe against Chidambaram.
Mar 1, 2012: Plea against Chidambaram and Law Minister Salman Khurshid for their alleged role in the 2G spectrum scam is listed for hearing in the SC.
Apr 4, 2012: SC begins hearing plea against Chidambaram.
Apr 24, 2012: SC reserves order on the maintainability of the plea for probe against Chidambaram in the 2G spectrum case.
Aug 24, 2012: SC dismisses plea for probe against Chidambaram in the 2G case, says no prima facie material to show that Chidambaram got pecuniary benefits.
December 9, 2013: Amid protests, JPC report on 2G tabled in Lok Sabha
April 25, 2014: 2G kickback case: ED chargesheets Raja, Kanimozhi
May 5, 2014: Court records statement of Raja | ‘Acted with the Prime Minister’s concurrence’
October 31, 2014: Charges framed in 2G-linked case
November 10, 2014: Final hearing from December 19
June 1, 2015: Kalaignar TV got Rs. 200 crores through 2G scam, says ED
August 19, 2015: CBI files assets case against Raja
September 30, 2015: SC dismisses Essar promoters’ plea
November 3, 2015: SC rejects Kanimozhi’s plea to quash charges against her
October 7, 2016: Entitled to be acquitted in 2G case: Kanimozhi
April 19, 2017: Special court concludes arguments
October 25, 2017: Special Court adjourns case to November 7, says it may decide the date of judgement on that day.
November 7, 2017: The court again postpones decision on fixing a date for the pronouncement of the verdict in the 2G spectrum allocation case.
December 5, 2017: Special Court says it would deliver its verdict on December 21 in the 2G spectrum allocation graft cases.
December 21, 2017: All the accused acquitted by Patiala High Court.
(With inputs from agencies)