Ex-PM, Cabinet were under confusion: Raja

2g1Former telecom minister A. Raja told a Delhi court on Tuesday that former prime minister Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet members were “completely under confusion” created by “vested interests” about policy and procedure of the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) in the allocation of 2G spectrum. Deposing as a witness to defend himself in the ongoing trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case, Raja, an accused, told the court that he had held many discussions with the then prime minister and explained to him the policy and legal framework governing the issuance of licences and allotment of spectrum.

He also claimed that he had told Singh that there was a “cartel force” wanting to stop legitimate efforts of the DoT to boost tele-density and reduce tariff in the country by injecting competition. “I further disclosed (to PM) how pressure was put on me through legal and other means to restrain myself from these efforts. The prime minister told me that he got the letter (sent by Raja in November 2007) and it was discussed at length in the PMO, where a separate joint secretary is posted to look after DoT to apprise PM of all these issues,” Raja told special CBI judge O.P. Saini.

“I submitted relevant papers in a folder to the prime minister. Further he told me that members of the Cabinet were also completely under confusion created by vested interests and he handed over a letter to me which was written by Kamal Nath, the then Union minister, addressed to prime minister, which raised the same issues and wanted constitution of a group of ministers on these issues (relating to the policy and procedure of DoT),” he said.

Raja, whose deposition will continue on Wednesday, also told the court that he had “further felt that the Prime Minister/ PMO was completely misguided by the vested interests, who had taken the same stand before TDSAT on the issues”.

“In Parliament also, such confusing questions were asked by MPs at the behest of vested interests. So, I took the issue seriously and replied to the prime minister on the same day (on November 2, 2007) by writing the aforesaid letter. Explaining the correct legal position,” he said.

(Source:PTI)

2G: Shahid Balwa wants to depose as witness

Shahid BalwaSwan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, one of the accused in the 2G spectrum allocation case, today told a Delhi court that he wanted to depose as a witness to defend himself in the ongoing trial. Balwa’s counsel Vijay Aggarwal told Special CBI Judge O P Saini that his client wished to depose as a witness in the case in which the court is scheduled to commence the recording of statements of defence witnesses from July 1.

“He (Shahid Balwa) wants to examine himself,” Aggarwal told the court after which the judge asked CBI whether it has any objection to it.

CBI’s prosecutor K K Goel replied “this is his (Balwa’s) right.” Balwa’s counsel initially told the court that he wanted to bring six witnesses in his defence but later he said he would be one of them.

“Defence is my right. They (CBI) have produced 153 witnesses and I am only seeking to summon 5-6 witnesses in my defence,” he said.

He also said co-accused, Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, who are Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd, were seeking permission to examine a total of five witnesses only in their defence in the case.

Regarding ex-Telecom Minister A Raja’s erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, also an accused in the case, Aggarwal told the court that he was only summoning some documents in his defence.

The court, after hearing the arguments, reserved its order for tomorrow on the issue of calling defence witnesses and documents as sought by these accused.

The court had earlier allowed Raja’s plea seeking to depose as a witness to defend himself in the ongoing trial. The court had also allowed the pleas filed by former Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra, Reliance ADAG executives Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair, Bollywood producer Karim Morani, Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar and accused firm Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd seeking to summon some witnesses in their defence in the case.

Besides these accused, Kanimozhi, Reliance ADAG executive Gautam Doshi, Swan Telecom promoter Vinod Goenka, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd had said they do not wish to lead any evidence in their defence.

Besides these 14 accused, three telecom firms Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd are also facing trial in the case.

The court had on October 22, 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, faking documents, abusing official position, criminal misconduct by public servant and taking bribe. The offences entail punishment ranging from six months in jail to life imprisonment.

(Source: PTI)

2G: Court imposes Rs one lakh penalty on Shahid Balwa

Shahid BalwaA special court on Friday imposed a penalty of Rs. 1 lakh on Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, who had sought permission to withdraw answers given by him earlier to the court in the 2G scam case trial, while allowing his plea to record afresh his statement before it.

Special CBI Judge O.P. Saini, however, did not allow the contention of CBI to cancel bail of Mr. Balwa, an accused in the 2G case.

The court passed the order on Mr. Balwa’s plea seeking permission to withdraw his answers given earlier during his deposition.

CBI had argued in court that Mr. Balwa’s plea was nothing but a “sinister design” to take the court for a “ride”.

During the arguments, Special Public Prosecutor U.U. Lalit had submitted that Mr. Balwa’s earlier contention that he had failed to understand the questions asked by the court under the provisions of CrPC was not an “inadvertent error” and it was a “smart and calculated” move.

He had also contended that it was a “breach of faith” reposed by the court on the accused and he must be fair to the court.

Mr. Balwa’s counsel, however, had submitted that it was only an inadvertent error and that nothing had been done deliberately.

On CBI’s contentions that bail granted earlier to Mr. Balwa may be cancelled, his lawyer had said it was not the case that his client has tampered with evidence or threatened any witness.

The counsel had also said that if the court feels that something wrong has been done, he was offering unconditional apology.

The CBI had earlier sought cancellation of the bail granted to Mr. Balwa, facing trial in the 2G case, saying his conduct requires reconsideration and recall of the relief given to him.

Mr. Balwa had faced the court’s ire when it observed that he “deserved” to be taken into custody for his misconduct.

He had filed a plea contending that he will “not raise any question of prejudice caused to him on grounds of non-understanding of any question asked by the court.

Mr. Balwa had said that during the recording of his statement, which was deferred by the judge, all questions were explained properly by the court.

He had apologised to the judge, saying he had not done anything intentionally. He had offered the apology after CBI had alleged that Mr. Balwa had deliberately stated that he had not understood the questions being asked by the court.

The stage for the recording of evidence of former Telecom Minister A Raja and 16 other co-accused, including DMK MP Kanimozhi, was set earlier when the court supplied a draft questionnaire to the accused containing 1,718 questions and running into 824 pages.

Besides Mr. Raja, Ms. Kanimozhi and Mr. Balwa, former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura, Mr. Raja’s erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra and Reliance ADAG executives Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair are facing trial in the case.

Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd, Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Sharad Kumar and Bollywood producer Karim Morani are also accused in the case.

Besides these 14 accused, three telecom firms Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd are also facing trial in the case.

(Source: PTI)

2G: Balwa seeks withdrawal of statement from court

Shahid Usman Balwa 2GSwan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa today moved a special court seeking its permission to withdraw the answers given by him earlier in response to the court’s query in the ongoing trial in 2G spectrum allocation case.

Balwa, who had on May 10 faced court’s ire which had said that he “deserved” to be taken in custody for his misconduct, filed a plea before Special CBI Judge O P Saini contending he will “not raise any question of prejudice caused to him on the ground of non-understanding of any questions” asked by the court. The 2G case accused also requested the court to take on record the written answers afresh.

He said that during recording of his statement, which was deferred by the judge, all the questions were “explained properly” by the court and due to “some inadvertence” it was recorded in some questions that he was not able to understand some of the queries. “This was a bonafide mistake and the same was neither intentional nor deliberate but only due to an inadvertent error of recording the answers on the court’s computer,” he said.

CBI, however, sought some time to file its reply after which the court fixed the matter for May 16. In his plea, Balwa said that he had understood the court’s queries and he required no further clarification on it. The judge had earlier said that Balwa had “embarrassed” him a lot due to his conduct and if he has not understood the question, then why he has given answers of the questions which were asked by the court during recording of his statement.

“It is an exercise to trap the court,” the judge had said, adding, “Be ready to go to jail.” Special public prosecutor U U Lalit had told the court that Balwa’s contention that he did not understand questions asked by the court under the provisions of the CrPC was only to take advantage in future.

(Source: PTI)

2G: Anil Ambani to appear in court as witness Thursday

Reliance TelecomA Delhi court Wednesday asked Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani to appear before it Thursday to depose as a prosecution witness in the 2G spectrum allocation case.

Central Bureau of Investigation Special Judge OP Saini dismissed the plea of Reliance Telecommunications Limited against the summoning of Anil Ambani and his wife Tina Ambani as prosecution witnesses and said the “examination of Anil Ambani as a witness would not cause any prejudice to the accused facing trial in the case”.

The trial court had earlier postponed Anil Ambani’s examination. The court said that it will hear the arguments Thursday on Tina Ambani’s plea seeking exemption from personal appearance.

The court had issued summons to Anil and Tina Ambani for recording their statements on Aug 22 and 23 respectively.

“The witness for tomorrow (Anil Ambani) has already been served and accommodation was granted to him earlier also when he was summoned for July 26. At that time also the accused (Reliance) has not stated that examination of these witnesses would cause prejudice to it,” the judge said.

“I see no reason as to how any prejudice would be caused to the accused if these witness are examined now.” The judge also said that no such prayer for postponement has been made by the Ambanis themselves.

(Source: IANS)

2G court issues fresh summons to Anil Ambani

A Delhi court today issued summons to Reliance ADA Group Chairman Anil Ambani and his wife Tina Ambani to appear as prosecution witnesses before it next month in the 2G spectrum allocation case.

While Anil has been summoned on August 22, Tina has been asked to appear before the court on August 23.

According to court sources, special CBI judge O P Saini has taken on record the list of witnesses to be called for recording of evidence submitted by the agency and issued fresh summons to them.

Besides Anil and Tina Ambani, the CBI has given the names of Reliance Energy Ltd officials Anita Gokhale and Kamalkant Gupta, CFSL experts Deepak R Handa and Vijay Verma and also a metropolitan magistrate.

The court had on July 19 allowed CBI’s plea to make Anil and Tina Ambani prosecution witness in the case as their testimonies may throw light on alleged investment of over Rs 990 crore by his group companies in Swan Telecom, facing trial in the case along with its promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka.

It had said CBI’s plea to summon Ambani, his wife and 11 others as prosecution witnesses was essential for arriving at a just decision in the case.

The court issued the summons to the couple after Ambani, who was scheduled to depose before it on July 26, had sought exemption from personal appearance on the ground that he has “pre-scheduled” business engagements.

He had said that he received the summon on July 23 and “owing to extremely short notice of just two days”, it would not be possible for him to appear before it and he would appear before the court any day after August 15.

On July 25, the Supreme Court had refused to grant an urgent hearing on the plea of Reliance Telecom Ltd (RTL), an accused in the case, challenging the trial court’s order summoning Anil and Tina as prosecution witnesses in the case.

The apex court has posted RTL’s application for hearing on Monday before a special bench, comprising justices Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan, which is hearing all the matters pertaining to the 2G scam.

(Source: IANS)

Mittal, Ruia appear in Delhi court in a 2G spectrum case

Bharti CMD Sunil Mittal and Essar group promoter Ravi Ruia today appeared in a Delhi court which posted the matter for further proceedings on April 16.

Sunil Mittal and Ravi Ruia have been summoned as accused in the additional 2G spectrum allocation case.

Mittal’s counsel placed before special CBI judge O P Saini the order passed by the Supreme Court postponing till April 16 the proceedings in the case.

Besides Mittal and Ruia, former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh, who was summoned by the special CBI judge, also appeared in pursuance to the summons issued against him.

The court, after going through the apex court’s order on separate petitions filed by Mittal and Ruia, listed the matter on April 16 for further proceedings. The apex court will hear their pleas on April 15.

The special court had on March 19 summoned Mittal, Ruia, who was then a Director in one of the accused companies Sterling Cellular Ltd and Asim Ghosh, the then Managing Director of accused firm Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd.

Their names were not mentioned in the charge sheet filed by CBI on December 21, last year in the case.

Besides the three, the court had also summoned as accused Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms Bharti Cellular Ltd, Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd (now known as Vodafone India Ltd) and Sterling Cellular Ltd (now known as Vodafone Mobile Service Ltd).

The three telecom firms were represented by their counsel in the court today.

CBI, in its charge sheet, had named the three telecom companies as accused in the case relating to the Department of Telecommunication allocating additional spectrum which had allegedly resulted in a loss of Rs 846 crore to the exchequer.

During the proceedings, the court was told that the summons against Canada-based NRI Asim Ghosh had “remained unserved”.

Ruia had moved the apex court a day after it had postponed till April 16 the proceedings in the special CBI court against Mittal.

When CBI had opposed the plea of Mittal in the Supreme Court saying evidence has been found against him during investigation in the case, the apex court had questioned the probe agency as to why he was not named in the charge sheet.

CBI had filed the charge sheet on December 21 last year against former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms — Bharti Cellular Ltd, Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd (now known as Vodafone India Ltd) and Sterling Cellular Ltd (now known as Vodafone Mobile Service Ltd).

Though Mittal, Ruia and Asim Ghosh were not mentioned in CBI’s charge sheet as accused, the special court in its order had said it was taking cognisance of the case and issuing summons to all the seven accused, including them, for April 11.

The special court had said that Mittal, Ruia and Asim Ghosh were “prima facie” in “control of affairs” of their respective companies which were charge sheeted by CBI for offences of criminal conspiracy (Sec 120-B) under the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

SC agrees to hear Mittal’s plea against summons

The petition of the Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal  has been accepted by the Supreme Court to challenging a special court’s summons to him to appear before it as an accused in the 2G spectrum allocation case here in New Delhi.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir posted the matter to 8 April.
Special court judge O.P. Saini had summoned Mittal to appear before him on 11 April on the grounds that as the head of BhartiAirtel when the alleged irregularities in spectrum allocation happened, he was responsible for his company’s actions and had knowledge of the allocation.
Saini has also summoned Essar Group vice-chairman Ravi Ruia, who was then a director in one of accused companies, Sterling Cellular Ltd, and Asim Ghosh, then managing director of accused firm Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt. Ltd.
Their names were not mentioned in the chargesheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation that’s probing the case. But Saini ruled that Mittal, Ruia and Ghosh were “prima facie” in “control of affairs” of their companies.
“As such, they represented the directing mind and will of companies and their state of mind was that of the companies,” the judge had said, adding, “They are/were ‘alter-ego’ of their respective companies.”
On 21 December, the CBI filed a chargesheet against former telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh and Bharti, Hutchison and Sterling (now part of Vodafone India Ltd), but didn’t name any individuals.

2G case: Court lets Raja visit Tamil Nadu

In the 2G spectrum allocation case trial facing Former Telecom Minister A Raja, allowed by a court of Delhi to visit Tamil Nadu till November 25. Permission to visit Tamil Nadu on his plea has been given by Special CBI Judge O P Saini, after it was not opposed by the CBI.

The court also allowed the plea of Swan Telecom promoter and 2G case accused Vinod Goenka to visit Sri Lanka from November 26 to November 28 for business purposes. Raja sought permission to visit his native place because the court, while granting him bail on May 15 this year, had stipulated that he would not visit his home state without its prior permission.

“Accused A Raja has filed an application for permission to visit Tamil Nadu from November 23 till the night of November 25, 2012. “Senior Public Prosecutor has no objection to the prayer. Prayer allowed.

According to the judge, “Accused A Raja is permitted to visit Tamil Nadu.”

The court had granted bail to the 49-year-old DMK MP and had directed him not to visit the Department of Telecom (DoT), which he had presided over as minister, and not to make any inducement, threat or promise, either directly or indirectly, to any person linked to the case. Raja, along with DMK MP Kanimozhi and others, is facing trial for offences punishable under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, faking documents, abusing official position, criminal misconduct by public servant and taking bribe.

SC rejects Swamy’s plea against Chidambaram

In a major relief to Finance Minister P.Chidambaram, the Supreme CourtFriday rejected Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy’s plea to make him co-accused along with former communications minister A.Raja in the 2G spectrum allocation case.

Rejecting Swamy’s plea, the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.K. Radhakrishnan said the material made available by the petitioner did not support the allegation.

Swamy had moved the apex court challenging a Feb 4 order by a trial court rejecting his plea to make Chidambaram co-accused and seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe against him.

Allegations of wrongdoing by Chidambaram, which has not been accepted by the apex court, relates to his tenure as finance minister during the first stint of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Radhakrishnan said on the basis of the material placed on record, no prima facie case was made out against Chidambaram for allegedly entering into a conspiracy with Raja for allocating 2G licences in 2008 at 2001 prices.

The court said that a mere meeting between Chidambaram and Raja could not be seen as a conspiracy. There is nothing to show that Chidambaram abused his position to favour anybody, it said.

The court said there was nothing to show that Chidambaram allowed dilution of equity by two cellular operators for any pecuniary gain.

Rejecting the petition by Swamy and an application by NGO Centre for Public Interest and Litigation (CPIL), the court said no wrong has been proved against the finance minister.