Thu, 21 December 2017
Rahul to chair first CWC meeting as Congress chief tomorrow

Timeline  Refresh

23:10   Rahul to chair first CWC meeting as Congress chief tomorrow
Rahul Gandhi will chair a meeting of the Congress Working Committee tomorrow, his first as Congress president.

The CWC will accord a warm welcome to the new president and likely discuss the current political situation, including the ramifications of the Congress' strong performance in the Gujarat assembly polls for the party in future.

Party sources said the 2G spectrum case judgment acquitting all the accused is also likely to be discussed.

The Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had used the alleged scam to the hilt while mounting a fierce campaign against the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Alleged corruption under United Progressive Alliance II was widely believed to have led to the defeat of the Manmohan Singh government.

The meeting, sources said, would also discuss the situation arising out of the continued face-off between the government and the main opposition Congress over Modi's remark against Singh suggesting that he colluded with some current and former Pakistani officials to influence the Gujarat polls.

The Congress, sources said, wants to take the 2G issue to the people for which it is likely to formalise a plan soon.

The CWC, the party's highest decision-making body, is also likely to adopt a resolution to this effect.

The agenda for the meeting was, however, not officially disclosed.

Though Rahul Gandhi has chaired CWC meetings in the past in the absence of his mother Sonia Gandhi, it will be for the first time that he will preside over it as Congress president.

Gandhi was elected unopposed as Congress chief on December 11 and assumed the party's reins on December 16.  -- PTI
22:01   Gujarat BJP MLAs to meet tomorrow to choose next CM
Newly elected Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs of Gujarat will meet in Gandhinagar tomorrow to choose the next chief minister, a top party official said today.

The BJP legislature party will meet to elect its leader in the presence of central observers for the exercise -- Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and party general secretary Saroj Pandey, the party's state chief Jitu Vaghani told reporters in Ahmedabad.

State BJP in-charge Bhupender Yadav and co-incharge V Satish would also attend the meeting at party headquarters 'Kamalam' tomorrow afternoon.

"All the MLAs along with party observers and in-charge leaders would meet tomorrow to select the leader of the ruling party (chief minister). All the MLAs have been intimated to remain present in tomorrow's meeting," Vaghani said.

Earlier today, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and members of his council of ministers resigned.

Rupani, a front-runner for the chief minister's post, has been asked to continue as caretaker chief minister till a new government is sworn in.

Governor O P Kohli had dissolved the assembly yesterday following the declaration of election results.  - PTI

Photograph: PTI Photo
21:10   Raja not mother lode of conspiracy, didn't misled then PM: Court
Former telecom minister A Raja was not the 'mother lode of conspiracy' and he 'cannot be faulted' for misrepresention of facts to then prime minister Manmohan Singh, the special court said today, while acquitting the Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam leader in the 2G spectrum allocation case.

The court held that Raja's deposition matched with the official record and appeared to be cogent, truthful and acceptable.

It was a matter of great importance that he took a 'huge risk' in appearing as a defence witness, giving a good opportunity to the prosecution to 'grill him' in detail about the payment of alleged illegal gratification of Rs 200 crore, Special Judge O P Saini said in his verdict.

Saini, who 'religiously' heard the matter on a daily basis for nearly seven years, said the genesis of the case lAY not so much in the actions of Raja but in the action or inaction of others.

"There is no material on record to show that Raja was mother lode of conspiracy in the instant case. There is also no evidence of his no holds barred immersion in any wrongdoing, conspiracy or corruption," the court said.

The judge said it was clear that complete facts were not placed before the then prime minister by his own office for which Raja could not be faulted and senior officials at the PMO had 'suppressed the most relevant and controversial part' of Raja's letter.

The CBI had alleged that Raja had misled Singh in his letters on several key issues related to the policy of grant of 2G spectrum licences, including first-come-first-served and the cut-off date. -- PTI
20:24   RK Nagar bypoll ends peacefully, with 60% turnout
Polling passed off peacefully at the RK Nagar assembly constituency in Chennai today, with an estimated 60 per cent of the electorate exercising their franchise by 3 pm in the prestigious bypoll.

Election officials said the final voting figure is expected later tonight as many people were still waiting to cast their votes at 5 pm.

An estimated 60 per cent of the 2,28,234 voters in the constituency exercised their franchise by 3 pm and there were no reports of any untoward incident, officials said.

In booth after booth, serpentine queues were witnessed right from 8 am when voting opened with women outnumbering men in several of them.

A large number of people were awaiting their turn to vote even at the scheduled closure of voting at 5 pm.

All those who were present inside the polling stations ahead of the 5 pm deadline were given tokens by officials to ensure that they exercised their franchise.

There were sporadic complaints of snag in some EVMs, and consequential delay.

Also, some voters complained that their names were deleted, others claimed their names were struck off the rolls wrongly categorising them as 'dead'.

The byelection is being held to fill the vacancy caused by the death of sitting MLA and late AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa in December last year.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Women wait in long queue at a polling booth to cast their votes for the Dr Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly constituency bypoll, in Chennai on Thursday. Photograph: R Senthil Kumar/ PTI Photo
19:01   My actions were for benefit of the masses: Raja after 2G verdict
Former Telecom Minister A Raja says acquittal in 2G spectrum case validates rightfulness.

"The entire case of 'presumptive loss' in 2G spectrum allocation was 'cooked-up'; vested interests manipulated public perception," he said.

Raja said his 'actions were for benefit of masses'.

On being asked if he feels let down by Congress and the United Progressive Alliance, Raja said, "That we will see later."   -- PTI, ANI

Photograph: ANI
18:44   Unfazed by 2G verdict, Centre maintains allocation was 'faulty'
Unfazed by the acquittal of all accused in the 2G allocation case, the government today asserted that the process used by the previous United Progressive Alliance regime to allocate lucrative spectrum was "faulty" and "dipped" in "corruption".

Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said the fate of the 122 telecom licences belonging to eight operators that were cancelled in 2012 will be decided based on the position the investigative agency takes on the acquittals.

Auctioning scarce natural resources is the best way of allocation and not the policy of 'first-come-first-serve' followed by the UPA regime by basing the spectrum on 2001 prices, he said.

"Congress party jo chakma de rahi hai, wo puri tarah galat hai (the facade by the Congress party is all wrong)," he said.

Speaking to reporters hours after the special court acquitted all accused, including former telecom minister A Raja, on corruption and cheating charges, Sinha reeled out collections from the subsequent auctions to prove the point that allocations done in 2008 were wrong.

"One thing is clear that the 2G spectrum allotment process was faulty and dipped in corruption," he said, adding "today, the trial court has given its decision and investigating agencies will see and decide next course of action".

The Congress party claiming moral high ground after the verdict is nothing but 'facade', he said, adding that the process was held wrong by multiple agencies.

He recalled the Supreme Court decision of 2012 quashing all the 122 licences given under the then telecom minister Raja, saying the apex court had also held that the procedure followed by the UPA regime was wrong.

Quoting from the 2012 order of the apex court, Sinha said the court had observed at that time that the government had virtually gifted away an important natural resource.

"Clearly the government incurred revenue loss," Sinha said alleging that the 'first-come-first-serve' policy was altered to 'first-come-first-pay' by changing timelines.

Under the 'first-come-first-serve' policy, spectrum was allocated to whosoever applied first.

In the 'first-come- first-pay', anyone capable of putting the licence fee on the table could walk away with the airwaves and telecom licence.

"Based on the 2001 prices, spectrum was given in 2008 and instead of the first-come-first-serve policy, it became first-come-first-pay, which was arbitrary and full of corruption," Sinha said.

Sinha said that even the government's anti-corruption watchdog CVC had investigated the allocations and had found faults with them.

The same CVC had applauded the telecom department for transparency in 2015-16 auctions, he added.

Asked if he was still of the view that there was indeed a scam even after the verdict of the lower court today, the minister said the Supreme Court had already held that the previous allotment process had been "arbitrary" and that the "decisions were being made from the power corridors".

"The country's apex court has already given its views that the policy was faulty and full of corruption," he maintained.

He said that Rs 1.09 lakh crore was raised from spectrum auction in 2015, and Rs 65,789 crore in 2016.

Under the UPA regime, this amount stood at Rs 9,407 crore in 2012, Rs 3,539 crore in 2013 and Rs 61,162 crore in 2014.

On the implications of the today's verdict on the 122 licences that were quashed in 2012, the telecom minister said the government will take a call based on report of the investigative agency.

Sinha, however, did not elaborate.  -- PTI
17:46   2G verdict: Swamy says 'need loyal law officers not sycophants'
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who unearthed the 2G spectrum case, on Thursday, snubbed the verdict in the muti-crore scam, while saying that the government needs loyal officers not sycophants.

All accused in the 2G spectrum allocation scam cases - including former telecom minister A Raja and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP Kanimozhi - were, earlier in the day, acquitted by a Special CBI court.

Speaking to the media, the BJP leader also slammed former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi for welcoming the verdict and said such people should not be made law officers.

"Mukul Rohatgi has welcomed this judgement. When he was appointed Attorney General, I had written to the Prime Minister opposing his appointment, as Rohatgi was advocate of many of the accused companies, including Unitech. These people should not be made law officers because a wrong signal will go out that we are not serious about corruption," he said.

The BJP leader said that today's judgment was bad and that it has to be appealed in the High Court.

"The corruption agenda has been derailed, but it can be put back on track again. We just need some honest and straight forward law officers and good lawyers, not those who do 'chamchagiri' to the ministers. We need somebody who has got stature and we need to put them together to have a team and within three months we can reverse whatever has happened," Swamy said.

He further called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take lesson from this and "set up war council for fighting corruption." -- ANI

File pic.
17:43   BJP will task Adityanath to conquer Karnataka
Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath is a hero in Karnataka. People want to meet him for his lectures and speeches on Hinduism. Karnataka will go to the polls in April 2018 and the BJP in Karnataka wants Adityanath to work his charm.

As with other states, BJP president Amit Shah has already begun working out the modalities of the assembly polls. He has appointed Bhupender Yadav as the party's observer in Karnataka.

Shah has rented a big bungalow in Bengaluru so that he can spend at least six months in the state whenever the need arises. At least 25 employees have been tasked with handling social media for Karnataka who are being sent from Gujarat and New Delhi. The BJP wants to capture Karnataka thereby taking its state tally to 20.
17:24   CBI's well-choreographed chargesheet had incorrect facts: 2G court
The CBI today received a backhanded compliment from a special court in Delhi for filing a "well choreographed charge sheet" containing incorrect facts which miserably failed to prove charges against the accused in 2G spectrum case.

Special judge O P Saini, who acquitted the accused facing trial in three separate cases lodged by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate, said that in the CBI's charge sheet filed against former telecom minister A Raja and others, incorrect facts were recorded and they were entitled to be set free.

"The end result of the above discussion is that, I have absolutely no hesitation in holding that the prosecution (CBI) has miserably failed to prove any charge against any of the accused, made in its well-choreographed charge sheet," the court said.

"I may add that many facts recorded in the charge sheet are factually incorrect, like Finance Secretary strongly recommending revision of entry fee, deletion of a clause of draft LOI (letter of intent) by A Raja, recommendations of TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) for revision of entry fee etc," Saini said.

The court also recorded its "deep appreciation" for the lawyers for their assistance in the complex case. "I also record my deep appreciation for advocates for both parties for the hard work put in by them during the trial of this voluminous, technical and complex case, the record of which runs into about three-four lac pages," the judge said.

The court directed the accused, who were out on bail, to furnish bail bonds in the sum of Rs 5 lakh with one surety in the like amount each for appearance before the appellate court, as and when required. --  PTI
17:24   Amit Shah's green signals show cause notice against Yashwant Sinha
Now that the Gujarat and Himachal polls are done and dusted, will the BJP finally take action again dissidents like senior party leader Yashwant Sinha?

Jharkhand BJP leaders have urged BJP chief Amit Shah to take action against Sinha for his criticism of the party for its economic policies.

Sinha's column in the Indian Express, 'I need to speak up now' in September said that the economy was on a downward spiral and is poised for a hard landing. Many in the BJP know it but do not say it out of fear'.

Shah believes this is not the right time to act against senior leaders, not just Sinha, but others as well who have leaked confidential letters to the media.

The BJP chief told party leaders in Jharkhand that at the state level they were welcome to boycott Sinha or even send him a show cause notice.

Seniors in BJP also feel that MoS Jayant Sinha will continue in the Modi ministry, but the party is keeping a close watch on the family. 
Chennai: 57.16% voting in the RK Nagar bypoll till 3 pm.
16:17   Cong leaders meet Kanimozhi
Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma meet Kanimozhi at her residence in Delhi after her acquittal in the 2G scam verdict.
15:27   This is what court said in 2G spectrum case verdict
A Special Central Bureau of Investigation court on Thursday acquitted all 19 accused in the 2G spectrum allocation case, which has sent a wave of happiness among the Congress party and the DMK party members.

Pronouncing the scathing judgement, Special CBI judge OP Saini said that there was no concrete evidence submitted against the accused. This is the gist of what the 1500-page verdict said.

"There is no evidence on the record produced before the court indicating any criminality in the acts allegedly committed by the accused persons relating to fixation of cutoff date, manipulation of first-come-first-served policy, allocation of spectrum to dual technology applicants, ignoring ineligibility of STPL (Swan Telecom Pvt. Ltd.) and Unitech group companies, non-revision of entry fee and transfer of Rs 200 crore to Kalaignar TV (P) Limited as illegal gratification," Justice Saini said.

He further noted that the chargesheet misrepresented the official record and included oral statements of the witnesses that are not acceptable in law.

"The chargesheet of the instant case is based mainly on misreading, selective reading, non-reading and out of context reading of the official record. Further, it is based on some oral statements made by the witnesses during investigation, which the witnesses have not owned up in the witness box. Lastly, if statements were made orally by the witnesses, the same were contrary to the official record and thus, not acceptable in law", the Special CBI Judge said.

He continued that many facts recorded in the chargesheet were factually incorrect.

"And, there are many facts recorded in the chargesheet that are factually incorrect, like the Finance Secretary strongly recommending revision of entry fee, deletion of a clause of draft LOI (Letter of Intent) by A Raja, recommendations of TRAI for revision of entry fee etcetera", Justice Saini said.

While ordering acquittal of the accused, the Special CBI judge also termed the chargesheet as a "well choreographed charge sheet".

"The end result of the above discussion is that, I have absolutely no hesitation in holding that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove any charge against any of the accused, made in its well choreographed charge sheet," Justice Saini said.

DMK leader and former telecom minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi are prominent persons who were acquitted by the court.Others acquitted in the case are former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura,

Raja's erstwhile private secretary RK Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra and three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG) -- Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair.The alleged 2G scam was among the major corruption scandals that came to light during the second term of the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh.

It 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 to the exchequer. A Raja was then telecom minister in the UPA government as the DMK was a coalition partner in Manmohan Singh led government. The 2G trial began in 2011.
-- ANI
14:56   Matter of shame Sachin not allowed to speak: Jaya
Jaya Bachchan on Sachin Tendulkar not being allowed to speak amid Opposition ruckus in the Rajya Sabha.

"He has earned name for India at the world stage, it is a matter of shame that he was not allowed to speak even when everyone knew it was on today's agenda. Are only politicians allowed to speak?" the Samajwadi Party MP asked.

The Opposition is demanding an apology from PM Narendra Modi for his verbal attack on former PM Manmohan Singh.

This is the first time in five years that Tendulkar is even attempting to speak in Parliament. He was supposed to speak on the right to play.
14:36   Kejriwal: Did CBI mess up the case intentionally?
Arvind Kejriwal @ArvindKejriwal 2G scam is one of the biggest scams. It rocked the country n was one of the reasons for UPA's downfall. Today everyone goes scot free. Did CBI mess up the case? Intentionally? People need answers
14:30   Aila! Oppn ruckus drowns out Sachin's debut speech in Parliament
Rajya Sabha MP Sachin Tendulkar rises to speak in Parliament, his debut speech in the five years he has been MP. However, Opposition ruckus prevents him from speaking. RS chairperson Venkaiah Naidu adjourns the House. The Opposition was raising a ruckus over PM Modi's remarks on Manmohan Singh during the Gujarat election campaign.

Sachin also attended Rajya Sabha proceedings in the winter session of Parliament but did not ask any questions.

Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal had questioned the absence of celebrity members of the House and advocated them being disqualified from Rajya Sabha membership during the last session.

"Sachin Tendulkar and Rekha should resign if they are not interested in Parliament," Agarwal said.

Tendulkar and actor Rekha were the worst performers in attendance in the Rajya Sabha among the 12 nominated members.
14:10   Hoardings in RK Nagar pledge to cast vote without notes
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Tamil Nadu.

Even as voting goes on briskly in Chennais RK Nagar assembly constituency, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of late All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo J Jayalalithaa, hoardings can be seen across the high-profile constituency bearing a pledge to cast ones vote, but not accept notes in return.

The bypoll was originally scheduled for earlier this year but was cancelled due to large scale offer of money by candidates to the electorate. This time, too, there have been reports that money power was in display in the constituency, but in a far more ingenious manner.

Photograph: A Ganesh Nadar.
13:44   Stalin reaches Karunanidhi's house
MK Stalin reaches Gopalapuram to meet M Karunanidhi. Stalin today described as "historic" a special court verdict acquitting his party colleagues A Raja and Kanimozhi besides others in the 2G spectrum allocation case. Expressing joy over the acquittal of all the accused including his sister Kanimozhi and former telecom minister Raja, Stalin charged that the case was a "planned" attempt at "insulting and finishing off" a political party, referring to his own party.
DMK supporters distribute sweets in celebration of the 2G verdict in Coimbatore after the acquittal of all the accused in the 2G scam. 
13:14   Govt should appeal in HC against 2G case acquittal: Swamy
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who was one of the petitioners on whose plea a CBI probe was ordered in 2G case, today said the government should immediately appeal in the Delhi High Court against the acquittal.

Former Telecom Minister and DMK leader A Raja, his party colleague and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi were today acquitted by a special CBI court in the 2G spectrum allocation scam cases.

"The government should appeal in the high court against acquittal of all the accused," Swamy told PTI outside court premises.

Later, Swamy also tweeted that the government must prove its bonafides by filing an immediate appeal in the High Court. In the tweets, he also made reference to former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa's DA case in which she along with her close aide Sasikala Natarajan was acquitted by the Karnataka High Court which was finally overruled this year by the Supreme Court. "Congis and Allies celebrated JJ HC acquittal. Then in SC got deflated. Same will be here," he said in the tweets.  -- PTI
13:01   Congress bays for Vinod Rai's blood
Former Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), Vinod Rai had calculated that 2G spectrum allocation in 2008 -- under the UPA regime when A Raja was the telecom minister -- led to notional loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the national exchequer.

"There was no case from the beginning. In fact, it was scam of lies, there was no scam on our part. We did it in accordance with policy prescription that we had at that point in time," Kapil Sibal said.

Responding to query on the Supreme Court judgement of February 2012 which cancelled 122 telecom licences that were allocated spectrum in 2008, Sibal said that the apex court passed the judgement in its attempt to do the best it could do in the interest of the nation, and it was a wrong decision.

"That (SC cancelling telecom licences) was also a wrong decision. The fact that the Supreme Court rendered a decision doesn't mean that is necessarily right. "In fact, the kind of environment created by the media, the opposition, by Vinod Rai... The telecom sector is in dire state today and this is entirely because of Vinod Rai and opposition (at that time)," Sibal said.

The Supreme Court, after cancelling 122 telecom licences, had ordered allocation of spectrum though auction. The government has held four spectrum auctions till date.

However, industry has been seeking reduction in the spectrum prices. In the last auction, DoT had put up 2,354.55 Mhz of spectrum for auction in 2016 across seven bands at a cumulative base price of Rs 5.6 lakh crore. Out of this, bids worth Rs 65,789 crore were received for 964.8 Mhz spectrum.
12:39   2G verdict not badge of honour: Jaitley
Arun Jaitley says Congress treating 2G verdict as badge of honour, but its zero loss theory was proven wrong when SC quashed spectrum allocation. 
12:38   Stalin hails 'historic verdict' in telecom case
DMK leader MK Stalin today described as "historic" a special court verdict acquitting his party colleagues A Raja and Kanimozhi besides others in the 2G spectrum allocation case. Expressing joy over the acquittal of all the accused including his sister Kanimozhi and former telecom minister Raja, Stalin charged that the case was a "planned" attempt at "insulting and finishing off" a political party, referring to his own party.

"A historic verdict has been delivered," Stalin, DMK Working President, told reporters in response to the special court acquitting all the 19 accused in the case. Recalling that the case was filed in 2009, he said it was a "planned (attempt) to insult and finish off a party in the political history (of the country)."

"It is a matter of joy that all of them have been acquitted," he added. Stalin earlier distributed sweets after the verdict was delivered even as DMK party workers and supporters held celebrations, especially outside the CIT Colony residence of Kanimozhi. Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi were today acquitted by a special court in the 2G spectrum scam case. Fifteen others accused in the case and three companies were also acquitted. - PTI
12:32   Zero gain for BJP: Sibal
Kapil Sibal @KapilSibal
After the 2G judgement by the Special Court
0 gain for BJP
My position vindicated

Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Thursday welcomed the acquittal of the accused in the 2G spectrum allocation scam cases by the special CBI court and sought an apology from former CAG Vinod Rai, who had audited the case. Sibal stressed the court's decision had proved there was no scam in the allocation of 2G spectrum.

"I have never made a U-turn from any of my statement. The BJP and CBI are experts in this. Today my remark has been proved. There was no corruption and no loss in the case. If there is any scam then it is of all lies. These lies were of Opposition and Vinod Rai," he said.

"Now since the judgement has been pronounced, Vinod Rai should apologise. The theory of presumptive loss has been proved wrong," he added.
12:24   Will decide future course of action after studying 2G verdict: CBI
The CBI today said it would study the special court verdict on the 2G spectrum scam case and then decide the future course of action. Former telecom minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi were today acquitted by a special court in the 2G spectrum scam case. Fifteen other accused in the case and three companies were also acquitted. "We are yet to receive the complete judgement. We will study it, take legal opinion and decide future course of action," CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said. --  PTI
12:23   Everybody is happy: Raja on verdict
Former Telecom minister and DMK leader A Raja today hailed the verdict in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case in which he was acquitted by a special court. "I will read the judgement and tell. You see everybody is happy,"

Raja told reporters after coming out of the court room. He was surrounded by party workers who were rejoicing his acquittal. --  PTI
12:16   Manmohan on 2G verdict: Massive propaganda against UPA without foundation
Former PM Manmohan Singh on the 2G scam verdict: "The court judgement has to be respected. I'm glad that the court has pronounced that the massive propaganda against UPA was without any foundation."

The former PM's image was battered in the the wake of the 2G scam. In February 2011, Singh had said that "coalition compulsions" had forced him to make compromises.

"Raja 'was the choice of the DMK and I had no reason to feel that anything seriously wrong has been done. I did not feel that I had the authority to object to Raja's entry although complaints were coming from some companies who were not benefited. I was not in a position to make up my mind," Singh had said in 2011.

File pic.
11:51   Bail of Rs 5 lakh for all 2G accused
2G verdict: All acquitted in the case will have to furnish a bail bond of Rs 5 lakhs each. This is done to ensure their presence in a higher appellate court if the verdict is challenged.
Subramanian Swamy on how the verdict on the 2G case may finally turn out. @Swamy39 Congis and Allies celebrated JJ HC acquittal. Then in SC got deflated. Same will be here.

JJ refers to J Jayalalithaa's disproportionate assets case. The Supreme Court had found her guilty, though the case against her was abated since she had died when the verdict was given, after the Karnataka High Court had acquitted all the accused. 
Anna Hazare: It is improper for me to comment on what the judiciary has said. There may have been a deficiency in the case that was made. 
Tamil Nadu: DMK workers celebrate in Coimbatore after Patiala House Court acquitted all in the 2G scam verdict.
11:31   It's been a difficult seven years for everybody: Kanimozhi
A jubilant Kanimozhi says that justice has prevailed. "It's been a difficult seven years for everybody. There was a lot of conspiracy. Cannot blame one person. This verdict will enthuse DMK cadre."
11:29   The other acquittals
Besides Raja and Kanimozhi, Special Judge O P Saini also acquitted Shahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka, Asif Balwa, Rajiv Aggarwal, Karim Morani, P Amirtham and Sharad Kumar in connection with the case. In its charge sheet, the ED had also named DMK supremo M Karunanidhi's wife Dayalu Ammal as an accused in the case in which it had alleged that Rs 200 crore was paid by Swan Telecom (P) Ltd (STPL) promoters to DMK-run Kalaignar TV.

In its final report, the ED had named 10 individuals and nine companies as accused and listed them in the charge sheet for the offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Besides Kalaignar TV, the other companies accused in the case were STPL (now Etisalat DB Telecom (P) Ltd), Kusegaon Realty (P) Ltd, Cineyug Media & Entertainment (P) Ltd, Dynamix Realty, Eversmile Construction Company (P) Ltd, Conwood Construction & Developers (P) Ltd, DB Realty Ltd and Mystical Construction (P) Ltd (earlier known as Nihar Constructions (P) Ltd).
--  PTI

Image: DMK MP Kanimozhi waves to supporters outside the Patiala House court.
Clearly the Court found that innocent people have been wronged. Justice has worked as it is supposed to work in our country: Shashi Tharoor, Congress. 
11:22   Thank everyone who stood by me, says Kanimozhi after acquittal
I would love to thank everyone who stood by me, Kanimozhi, said outside court.

Kapil Sibal who had succeeded A Raja as the telecom minister and claimed that the spectrum allocation had caused 'zero loss' said, "I had always maintained that this was no scam. It was a scam by former CAG Vinod Rai. We stand vindicated.... The telecom sector is in dire straits thanks to Vinod Rai and then leaders of opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha."

Congress leader Manish Tewari says Vinod Rai should apologise to the nation. Veerappa Moily adds that Vinod Rai should now quit "all posts given by the government".

A Raja's family who were at court were in tears after the judgment was pronounced. Judge OP Saini did not read out the judgement in its entirety because many of the accused could not even enter the court since there ere so many people outside court; a guesstimate puts the figure at 2000 people, mostly DMK supporters.

Image: Kanimozhi outside the Patiala House Court with her husband (in the yellow shirt).
DMK supporters celebrating outside the Patiala House Court after the Court's pronouncement of the 2G scam verdict. All accused have been acquitted.
Allegation of a major scam involving the highest levels of government was never true, was not correct and that has been established today: P Chidambaram, Congress.
11:06   Prosecution miserably failed to prove its charge: Judge
Vijay Aggarwal, lawyer of Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa, Vinod Goenka and others, said: The court said that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove any of its charge. Thus all accused are acquitted.

Remember the voting for the RK Nagar bypoll has begun this morning. The DMK will now be in a better position to contest the elections and secure its future in the state after the taint of the 2G scam has been washed away.  
11:02   Raja was made a scapegoat: Lawyer
All other accused and three companies were also acquitted in the case. Special CBI Judge O P Saini pronounced the judgement in the 2G scam which had rocked the UPA government. In its charge sheet filed in April 2011 against Raja and others, the CBI had alleged that there was a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of 122 licences for 2G spectrum which were scrapped by the Supreme Court on February 2, 2012.

A Raja's lawyer said there was never a case and his client was made a scapegoat.

DMK MP Kanimozhi said, "At last justice has prevailed."

Congress leader Tom Vadakkan said the verdict will reverberate across the country.

Image: Celebrations outside the Delhi court after the 2G verdict.
11:01   Fire at Bandra railway station
Fire broke out at an eatery at platform no. 4 of the Bandra railway station in Mumbai. No casualties reported. Situation under control.
10:55   'I did a revolution, got branded as a criminal'
"Two things are very clear. One, that I did not have any disproportionate wealth, as per the CBI's contention before the court. And there has been no loss to the exchequer, which has been admitted by the joint secretary."

This is what the former telecom minister A Raja told's Saisuresh Sivaswamy on the campaign trail in the Nilgiris constituency during the 2014 general elections.  Read it here.
10:51   Kanimozhi, Raja, ALL accused acquitted in 2G case
All 17 accused acquitted in the 2G case. The court said that the prosecution has not been able to prove that the money has been received or that any transactions took place. The judge said the prosecution has "miserably failed" to prove the case.

Scenes of jubilation outside the court by the at least 2000 DMK supporters, mainly of A Raja's camp. 
10:47   2G verdict: Kanimozhi, Raja NOT guilty
2G scam verdict: Former telecom minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi have been found NOT guilty in the case. 
10:45   VHP demands sweater, heater for Ram Lala in Ayodhya
As we await the verdict in the 2G scam, in Ayodhya, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has made an official petition to the Receiver, who is the Commissioner of the Faizabad division, requesting him to order woolen clothes and a room heater for 'Ram Lala' in the disputed land of Ayodhya to keep the deity warm from the ongoing cold wave.

However, the priests have denied permission because Lord Ram's idol has been kept in a makeshift temple that can catch fire due to the heaters.

"Nothing can be done without taking any permission from the Supreme Court. Those who have made a petition were they sleeping from last 25 years? Those who are concerning now for Ram Lala wants cheap publicity by doing all this," one of the priests asked.If reports are to be believed, the VHP never officially came forward with such a request during the previous governments but it is only now during Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's rule that such a petition has been made. - ANI
10:38   Complainant Subramanian Swamy waits to enter court
Present at the Delhi court are Kanimozhi's mother Rajathi Ammal, half-brother MK Alagiri, her husband G Aravindaan and other DMK leaders. The special court, which is exclusively dealing with the cases arising out of the 2G spectrum allocation scam, has directed all 17 accused to remain present for the verdict.

Judge OP Saini is scheduled to pronounce judgments in separate cases lodged by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in the infamous scam which rocked the UPA government.

The verdict, likely to be delivered before 11am, may have a bearing on the bypoll being held today in Tamil Nadu's RK Nagar constituency, the seat vacated by the death of Jayalalithaa.

The trial in 2G spectrum scam started six years ago in 2011 after the court had framed charges against 17 accused in the CBI case for offences that entail punishment ranging from six months to life imprisonment.

CNN News18 says that BJP leader Subramanian Swamy is also waiting to enter the courtroom and defence lawyer Manali Singhal is objecting to his presence there. Swamy is a private complainant in the high-profile case.
Bill on Triple Talaq will be tabled in the Parliament, tomorrow: Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar
10:18   Why BJP lost rural Gujarat
The Congress' revival in Gujarat stunned many even though it lost the assembly election to the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Congress made maximum gains in rural Gujarat. Of the 109 seats in rural Gujarat, the Congress won 62. In contrast, it only won 15 seats in the cities. Why did rural Gujarat oust the BJP after voting overwhelmingly for the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha election? Devinder Sharma, distinguished food policy analyst, agricultural scientist, author and activist, tells's Syed Firdaus Ashraf why rural Gujarat voted against the BJP. Do read the interview here.
10:16   Man and dog go to vote at RK Nagar bypolls
RK Nagar bypolls: A voter who had come to cast his vote along with his dog was turned away by the poll authorities. The man finally voted after leaving his dog with his friend who had also come to vote. AIADMK candidate E Madhusudhanan also cast his vote, and said, "God and Amma's grace is with us."
09:57   Kanimozhi, Raja arrive at court, verdict in 2G case today
DMK MPs Kanimozhi and former telecom minister A Raja arrive at a Delhi court which will be pronouncing the verdict in the much-anticipated 2G spectrum allocation scam cases.

The verdict is expected to be pronounced nearly seven years after the first arrest was made by the CBI in 2011.

One of the largest scams in India, the 2G spectrum case caused huge loss to the public exchequer.

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, loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore.

Special CBI judge O P Saini is scheduled to pronounce the judgements in separate cases lodged by the CBI and the ED in the scam which rattled the former prime minister Manmohan Singh-led UPA government.

Two cases have been filed by the CBI and another one by the ED.The court, has directed all accused, including Raja, Kanimozhi and others to remain present before it tomorrow for the verdict. -- ANI
09:47   New Forest Bill excludes bamboo from being defined under 'tree'
The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017.The bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha and will put an end to the need for getting permission to transport bamboo.

The Bill was introduced by Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan.According to the bill's Statement of Objects and Reasons, section 2 the Act would be amended to exclude the word "bamboos" from the definition of tree, in order to spare bamboos grown in non-forest area from the requirement of permit for felling or transit under the law.

This would "encourage bamboo plantation by farmers resulting in the enhancement of their income from agricultural fields," the bill said.

The amendment will also encourage farmers to take up block plantation of suitable bamboo species on degraded land. -- ANI
09:29   2 FIRs filed against Hardik Patel for holding roadshows without permission
An FIR was registered against Patidar quota agitation spearhead Hardik Patel and around 50 of his supporters for holding a roadshow on the city outskirts on 11 December without permission, police said. This is the second FIR filed against Patel for organising unauthorised rallies.

The Ahmedabad Police registered the case in connection with the roadshow held in Bopal area.

"Hardik, who heads the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, and his supporters were booked under IPC section 188 for disobeying the police order," Bopal Police Inspector IH Gohil said.

Hardik and his supporters, who were on their bikes, had organised a roadshow on 11 December, despite being denied permission by the district authorities, he said.

"Today, we have lodged an FIR against him and 50 other bikers for disobeying the police notification," Gohil said.

Three days before the second phase of Gujarat assembly polls, the rally-cum-roadshow on motorcycles and cars was organised, which started from Bopal and culminated at Nikol area on the other end of the city, covering a distance of around 15 kilometres.

-- PTI
09:19   Pak army chief urges lawmakers to improve relations with India
In an extraordinary gesture, Pakistan army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, urged the country's lawmakers to try to improve relations with India, assuring them that their efforts would be fully backed by the army. His address comes in the backdrop of sustained American emphasis to Pakistani leadership on mending ties with India.

"The military is ready to back political leadership's initiative for normalisation of relations with India," General Bajwa told lawmakers at the senate committee. 

Quoting senators, leading Pakistan daily Dawn said General Bajwa told legislators that he wants relations with all neighbours to be normalised and urged politicians to try to improve relations with India. 

He assured them that their efforts would be fully supported by the army. The army chief's offer was particularly significant given a general perception that the army was against peace efforts with India.

But General Bajwa said a large part of Indian military deployments was mostly against Pakistan. He also accused India of fomenting instability and terrorism in Pakistan, stating that New Delhi had developed a strong nexus with Afghan intelligence agency National Directorate of Security.
08:59   Centre likely to table bill on triple talaq today
The Central Government is likely to introduce a bill on triple talaq in the Lok Sabha today.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had, on December 15, said that the Cabinet approved a proposal to introduce the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, to make instant triple talaq void and illegal.

The Supreme Court, in August, by a majority of 3:2, had ruled that the practice of divorce through triple talaq among Muslims is "void", "illegal" and "unconstitutional".

Once the law is made to make triple talaq an offence, the victims will have the option of approaching the police and the legal system for the redressal of their grievances and for action to be taken against the husband. 

-- ANI
08:31   Polling for crucial RK Nagar bypoll begins
Polling for the the prestigious RK Nagar constituency have begun today.

In Tamil Nadu, campaigning for the high-stakes bypoll came to an end yesterday.

Counting of votes will be held on December 24.

The bypoll was necessitated as the constituency fell vacant after the death of AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa in last December.

The bypoll was earlier scheduled for April 12 earlier this year, but was cancelled following allegations that sums of money were distributed in a vote-for-cash scam.

Image: DMK candidate N Marudhu Ganesh reaches polling booth number 134 in Chennai to cast his vote. Photograph: ANI/Twitter
08:10   Court verdict on A Raja, Kanimozhi in 2G scam cases today
A special court is likely to decide today the fate of former telecom minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and several others in the much-anticipated 2G spectrum allocation scam cases.

Special CBI judge O P Saini is scheduled to pronounce the judgments in separate cases lodged by the CBI and the ED in the infamous 2G scam which rocked the UPA government.

The court, which is exclusively dealing with the cases arising out of the 2G spectrum scam, has directed all accused, including Raja, Kanimozhi and others to remain present before it for the verdict.

The trial in 2G spectrum scam started six years ago in 2011 after the court had framed charges against 17 accused in the CBI's case for the offences which entails punishment ranging from six months in life imprisonment.

In the first case filed by the CBI, Raja and Kanimozhi are facing trial along with former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja's erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra and three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group -- Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair.

All the accused facing trial in these cases have denied the allegations levelled against them by the CBI and the ED.

The court had in October 2011 framed charges against them under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, using as genuine fake documents, abusing official position, criminal misconduct by public servant and taking bribe.

In its chargesheet filed in April 2011 against Raja and others, CBI had alleged that there was a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of 122 licences for 2G spectrum which were scrapped by the Supreme Court on February 2, 2012.

-- PTI
00:09   Free speech can't be absolute, should not be trampled upon:VP
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday said that freedom of speech and expression cannot be "absolute" but it should also not be trampled upon.
Naidu, who was the Information and Broadcasting Minister before getting elected as the vice president, said he was "not pleased" with India's ranking in the World Press Freedom Index.
This issue should be addressed by strengthening media's independence, ensuring transparent flow of information, making legal framework more coherent and ensuring safety of journalists, he said.
India's World Press Freedom Index ranking plunged to 136 in 2017.
Naidu, in his keynote address at the Ramnath Goenka Awards for Excellence in Journalism, also said that he twice expressed the desire before Prime Minister Narendra Modi to retire from active politics and devote his time for social work after turning 70.
Naidu said the prime minister told him that he still has time to turn 70, which will be in 2019. Naidu is 68.
Recalling the days of emergency when he was a student leader and was jailed, Naidu said the prison had all the necessary amenities but people inside were unhappy because of the confinement and craved for freedom.
"Journalism is all about conversation of the people and for the people. This is possible in an environment of freedom of expression. This freedom (of expression) should not be trampled upon as it was done during the emergency," the vice president observed.
He, however, said that there has to be regulation when it comes to certain aspects like sovereignty of the nation but it should not amount to strangulation of rights.
"We also need to understand the scope and nature of freedom of speech and expression. Can this be an absolute right? It cannot be absolute freedom. It comes around with certain responsibilities and restrictions," Naidu said.

He said that the Constitution has imposed certain restrictions on freedom of speech and expression in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, decency and morality.
The vice president noted that in a democracy it is necessary for the "opposition to have its say and the government must have its way" and emphasised on debating, discussing and then deciding on issues.
Noting that the growth rate of the media and the entertainment industry from 2011-16 was 17 per cent, Naidu cautioned that sensationalism and yellow journalism was the "dark side" of journalism which needs to be addressed.
He also rued that too much time was being spent by a section of media on trivial issues and advocated transparency and accountability. -- PTI