NEW DELHI (Reuters) – An Indian court on Thursday acquitted a former telecoms minister, politicians and business executives of graft and money laundering charges in the grant of telecoms licenses due to lack of evidence in one of the country’s biggest corruption scandals.
The case relates to alleged below-market-price sale of lucrative telecoms permits bundled with airwaves in 2008, which a federal auditor said may have cost the government as much as $28 billion in lost revenue.
A special court convened by the federal investigator was called to give its verdict on the accused, including former telecoms minister A. Raja.
The scandal dented the fortunes of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his government, which oversaw the sale of the licenses at below-market prices, and triggered street protests.
It was one of the several scandals that emerged during Singh’s second term, hobbling policymaking and diverting the government’s attention away from pushing forward crucial economic reforms.
In 2012, the Supreme Court ordered 122 licenses held by eight operators to be revoked, declaring the licenses illegal and the process “wholly arbitrary, capricious and contrary to public interest”.