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2G trial not to be shifted to Tihar for now

The Delhi High Court Wednesday stayed the notification shifting the trial of the 2G spectrum allocation case from the Patiala House complex to the Tihar Jail.

A five-judge bench headed by Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri passed the order after the defence counsel for the 14 individual accused approached the court seeking a stay of the registrar general’s administrative order Tuesday shifting the trial.

Now, a committee comprising the registrar general, special Judge O.P. Saini (who is conducting the trial), a district judge of the Patiala House court and a few lawyers representing the accused will identify the place where the trial can be conducted.

In case no such place can be identified, the committee will subsequently look into other options, a defence counsel said.

The matter was initially heard by a division bench of Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice Rajiv Shakdher before whom the counsels of the 14 accused contended that the decision to shift the place of trial was not examined properly and it would cause a lot inconvenience to the defence and its lawyers.

Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge Saini had Tuesday communicated the high court registrar general’s order shifting the trial to the Tihar Jail court complex. The next hearing was scheduled Thursday in a courtroom in the prison premises.

“The exercise of shifting to the Tihar court complex is illegal. There is no security threat. So the court may allow us to continue the trial at Patiala House complex by allotting some other space in this court premises,” defence lawyer Majid Memon said.

To this, the division bench said: “It is an administrative matter. It has been decided by the acting chief justice. We will cross-check with him at lunch time. After checking with the acting chief justice, we will be able to take up the matter.”

The five-judge bench met in chamber under Justice Sikri in the post-lunch session and decided to stay the shift of the trial.

The decision to shift the trial had come as a surprise to all the 14 individuals, including former telecom minister A. Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi, as well as public prosecutor U.U. Lalit.

Besides Raja and Kanimozhi, the 2G case accused lodged in Tihar Jail include Swan Telecom’s Shahid Usman Balwa, Cineyug’s Karim Morani, Raja’s then private secretary R.K. Chandolia and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura.

The Supreme Court Wednesday granted bail to five corporate executives co-accused in the case — Sanjay Chandra of Unitech Wireless, Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom and Reliance Group’s Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair. With the five getting bail, nine people are now behind bars.

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