2G verdict: Things to know about O P Saini, judge who acquitted all accused

Patiala House court
A special court led by judge OP Saini on Thursday acquited A Raja, DMK member Kanimozhi and several others in the 2G spectrum allocation scam cases. The scam relates to the 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 trial began 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.

Saini gave judgments in separate cases lodged by the CBI and the ED in the 2G scam that had rocked the UPA government.

The Delhi government designated Judge O P Saini to undertake the trial of all 2G cases only after the Supreme Court bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly asked the Government to set up a special court to deal with it. 

Judge Saini started his career as a Delhi Police sub-inspector in 1981 and shot into fame as a special POTA judge after delivering the Red Fort shoot-out case judgement where the main accused was sentenced to death.

A strict disciplinarian, he reportedly even gave a stern warning to family members of one of the corporate honchos then arrested in the 2G case to avoid talking among themselves, as it was disturbing and affected the court proceedings.
Here are some lesser-known facts about the judge cherry-picked to handle the 2G case:

1. Om Prakash Saini, 57, started his career as a sub-inspector (SI) in Delhi Police. Hailing from Haryana, Saini sat for the judicial magistrate examination after six years in the police service.  He alone was selected that year, among all the others who sat for the exam.

2. Before the 2G case, Saini heard cases relating to the Commonwealth Games, putting behind bars Suresh Kalmadi's aides Lalit Bhanot, VK Verma, KUK. Reddy, Praveen Bakshi and Deorukhar Shekhar.

3. Saini is known to be a hard and tough man. In a November 2011 order, when everyone expected Saini to grant bail to Kanimozhi, the daughter of DMK patriarch Karunanidhi. Saini shocked everyone by dismissing the plea. The bail plea was on the grounds that Kanimozhi was a woman, and had been in jail for several months already. But Saini argued that she was an influential politician, and he could not risk witnesses getting intimidated if she was released. Another example is the March 19, 2017 order  when Saini used his special powers under Section 319 of the CrPC to summon three more accused - Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel, Asim Ghosh of Hutchison Max and Ravi Ruia of Sterling Cellular - in the 2G case. 

4. In the December 22, 2000, incident at Red Fort, Arif and his accomplices stormed the monument and attacked an army camp, killing 3 jawans. Judge O P Saini handed the death sentence to main accused Mohammad Arif and gave life imprisonment to six others.The death sentence given to Arif by Saini in October 2005 was upheld by both the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court.

5. In fact, before the 2G case, Saini had heard key corruption and graft cases, including the National Aluminum Company Limited (NALCO) bribery scam case where he denied bail to  Nalco chairman A.K. Srivastava.