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: 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 case: Raja, others told to reply to 1,700 questions

2G caseA special CBI court hearing the second generation (2G) spectrum case Thursday handed over 1,700 questions running into 824 pages to the accused, including former union minister A. Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court judge O.P. Saini said the questionnaire will help expedite the case, and posted the matter for April 21.

“Considering the nature of the case, it would be in the interest of justice and also convenient to the parties if a copy of the draft questionnaire is supplied to accused in advance to facilitate answering the questions by them and to expedite the case,” the court said.

Meanwhile, counsel of the accused requested the court to grant sufficient time to go through the draft. Granting the request, the court gave them time till April 21 to prepare the answers.

The questions are part of the recording of the statement of the accused.

The court had Nov 27, 2013 concluded the recording of statements of 153 people running into 4,400 pages.

Among the CBI witnesses who deposed in the court were former Raja aides, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India ex-chairman Nripendra Misra, former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, former Reserve Bank of India governor D. Subbarao and DMK chief M. Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal.

The special court was set up last year on the direction of the Supreme Court.

According to the government auditor, Raja was biased while distributing 2G mobile airwaves and operating licenses to telecom firms, causing a loss of up to Rs.1.76 lakh crore in revenue to the treasury.

All the accused, including Raja, are out on bail.

(Source:IANS)

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)

Supreme Court stays proceedings in all 2G cases in the Delhi High Court

The Supreme Court expressed its displeasure that the Delhi High Court  was hearing the matters relating to the 2G spectrum scam despite its order restraining courts below the apex BSE 0.00% court from adjudicating issues arising out of the case.

According to  justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan, “Despite injunction the Delhi High Court has entertained petition relating to the 2G spectrum case.

It is very surprising on the part of the behaviour of the High Court”

CBI counsel K K Venugopal said the bench can pass an order and stay any such proceedings.

The bench said an application can be filed by the CBI so that it can give a clear-cut order. “We will hear your application”

“We will make it clear that no court will entertain any petition (on the 2G case),” the bench said after senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing Essar Group in the case against them, sought clarification on the injunction order. Rohatgi said the legal right available to the affected parties cannot be taken away and one such right was to approach the High Court.

He said it was for Parliament to make or amend laws and the legal rights available cannot be denied.

“We cannot say anything for Parliament to amend laws. Law making is in their domain,” the bench observed.

The remarks of the bench came in the wake of the High Court yesterday entertaining the petition filed by Essar Group promoters.

 

BY PTI

SC to resume hearing of 2G related matters Sep 27

The Supreme Court said Thursday that after a “long hiatus” it would resume the hearing of 2G related matters from Sep 27 and continue proceedings on the subsequent Thursday in the next week.

An apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan said that after a “long hiatus” they will commence the hearing of the 2G related matters from the coming Thursday and would continue even on the subsequent Thursday.

The court directed its registry to inform counsel for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax Department. There are a number of reports by the government agencies that are pending with the court for its considerations. Besides, there are also a number of applications relating to the case.

The court order for resuming the hearing of the 2G related matters came after it adjourned hearing on a petition by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and his son Kirit Chidambaram.Swamy sought the action for Chidambaram and his son allegedly filing a defamation case against him in Singapore in order to shackle him from pursuing the 2G cases in the trial court.

He sought initiation of the contempt proceedings alleging that Advantage Strategic Consulting Singapore (ASC Singapore) held by Chidambaram’s son had filed a defamation case against him for pointing to questionable transactions between the company and telecom company Aircel.

Swamy said that filing of the defamation case was a move to engage him in overseas cases which would involve his time and resources and thus restrict his engagement with the 2G cases.

The Janata Party president said that the use of internet information to file cases anywhere in the world was a new phenomenon and this could be used to fetter the public spirited litigants. ‘This public spirited person could be fettered by a new phenomenon of internet because this (internet information) can be used to file cases anywhere. I will have to travel to different countries to defend myself. Hiring counsel would become too expensive,’ Swamy told the court.

Swamy told the court that the case against him had been filed by a Singapore-based Advantage Strategic Consulting, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Advantage Strategic Consulting India.The court was told that Advantage Strategic Consulting India was owned by Kirit Chidambaram.

The court asked Swamy if he had impleaded Advantage Strategic Consulting Singapore as a respondent which could be issued notice for the pursuance of his contempt petition.The court adjourned the matter after Swany said that he would amend his petition seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against the Chidambarams to implead the company.

2G case: Sanjay Chandra questions key witness

Unitech Ltd Managing Director (MD) Sanjay Chandra, an accused in the 2G spectrum case, today cross-examined a former top telecom official in a Delhi court saying he was the “brain” behind the decisions on the allocation of radio waves.

However, A K Srivastava, a former Deputy Director General (AS) of Department of Telecom (DoT), refuted the allegations put forward by Chandra’s counsel that the non-recording of “dissenting note” by him on the issues relating to the policy for allocation of the spectrum suggested that he was the “brain” behind the entire episode.

“I do not recall ever having recorded a dissenting note on any issue on any file during the period September 2007 to January 2008 regarding policy decision and processing of applications.

“It is wrong to suggest that I was the brain behind all the decisions taken in the DoT during the aforesaid period,” he told Special CBI Judge O P Saini.

The statement by the former DoT official was made during his cross examination as a prosecution witness by Chandra’s counsel Rebecca John when she put a question to him as to why he had not recorded any dissenting note on the DoT’s policy decision and processing of applications for the Unified Access Service Licence (UASL).

Srivastava, whose cross examination concluded today, said he did not know if Unitech Group had first attempted to file its applications for UASL to the DoT on September 21, 2007 and had sent intimation to the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and Bombay Stock Exchange (NSE) about it on that day itself.

On being asked about the decision regarding the processing of applications received till September 25, 2007, the witness said that he was not a “party” to it and it was taken by Raja.

No use of i-pad in court

The judge hearing the 2G spectrum case on Friday expressed displeasure over use of an i-pad to record the proceedings yesterday and warned against such a practice in future.

 After the day’s proceedings were over with the recording of testimony of a prosecution witness, Special CBI Judge O P Saini drew the attention of the lawyers that an i-pad was found inside the courtroom in live recording mode yesterday.

 The counsel appearing for Essar Teleholdings Limited, an accused firm in the case, submitted that the device belonged to an employee of the company and it was left inadvertently in the court. “The act is totally indefensible,” he added.

 However, the judge said “it is apparent that court proceedings were being recorded secretly and surreptitiously in an unauthorised manner.”

 Taking note that the counsel has “profusely apologised,” the judge let off the employee with warning that such incidents should not be repeated in future by anyone.

 “i-pad be returned to the concerned person after deleting the recording therefrom. The accused persons are directed to ensure that such acts are not repeated by their employees, agents or associates in future,” the judge said.

 During the proceedings, the court recorded the statement of prosecution witness Vikas Jagannath Waingankar, who is an Associate Vice President of HSBC bank in Mumbai.

 Promoters of Essar group Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia and Loop Telecom promoters I P Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan and Essar group Director (Strategy and Planning) Vikash Saraf are facing trial in the case.

HC notice to CBI on Raja’s plea against charge order

The Delhi High Court today sought CBI’s stand on former Telecommunication Minister A Raja’s plea challenging the trial court’s order on framing of charges against him in the 2G spectrum allocation case.

 Justice A K Pathak issued notice to the CBI and sought its reply by September 6, the date slated for hearing of similar pleas of other accused persons.

 Raja, who was arrested in February 2011 and spent 15 months in prison before getting bail in May, contended in his petition that the CBI investigations was biased and also the special CBI judge, hearing the case, has erred in holding that there was illegality in the manner spectrum was allocated.

 Raja, a DMK MP, also alleged that the charge sheet filed in the case shows a bias in the investigations as it remained silent on the licenses issued during 2003-2007.

 “During the period 2003-2007, a total of 51 licenses were issued by the DoT (Department of Telecommunication). These were issued on the same terms and conditions as those issued by the DoT under the petitioner in the year 2008.

 “Yet the charge sheet has chosen to remain silent on this aspect, which shows the bias in its investigation. The special judge has also ignored this aspect altogether, which is a grave error,” Raja said in his petition.

 He further contended that the CBI special judge has failed to appreciate that his decisions as telecom  minister on the issues relating to allotment and pricing of 2G spectrum were fully in conformity with the department’s consistent policy.

 Raja claimed the successive governments have chosen to allocate telecom licences and spectrum on a basis other than revenue maximisation.

2G: Lawyers warned about irrelevant questions

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court here Wednesday warned defence counsel to not waste court time by asking irrelevant questions to witnesses during the trial of the 2G spectrum case.

“If such questions are persisted any further and are ruled to be irrelevant, they shall be subject to heavy cost as this is leading to wastage of time of the court,” special CBI Judge O.P. Saini told S.P Minocha, appearing for former telecom secretary Sidharath Behura.

Minocha had asked former telecom secretary D.S. Mathur, testifying as a CBI witness asw to whether he had gone through his statement made in court April 9 before signing it.

The 2G spectrum allocation case pertains to biased distribution of mobile airwaves and operating licences, in lieu of kickbacks to telecom firms that could have cost the treasury up to Rs.1.76 lakh crore in lost revenue.

Nineteen individuals and six companies are accused in the case. Except for former telecom minister A. Raja and Behura, all other arrested accused have been released on bail.