2G Case: Shahid Balwa Wants to Depose as Witness

Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, one of the accused facing trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case, Tuesday told the court that he wanted to depose as a witness in the case to defend himself.

Balwa’s counsel Vijay Aggarwal told the special CBI court hearing the case that his client wanted to depose as a witness in the case in which recording statements of defence witnesses will commence July 1.

Central Bureau of Investigation counsel K.K. Goel did not object, saying to depose as witness to defend himself is Balwa’s right.

Balwa’s counsel told the court that he wanted to bring six witnesses in his defence and he would be one of them.

“Defence is my right. They (CBI) have produced 153 witnesses and I am only seeking to summon five to six witnesses in my defence,” said Aggarwal on behalf of his client.

Aggarwal added that co-accused, Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, directors of Shahid Balwa, were seeking permission to examine a total of five witnesses only in their defence in the case.

Regarding former 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 client’s defence.

Special CBI Judge O.P. Saini reserved the order for Wednesday 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 trial.

The court had on Oct 22, 2011 framed charges against 14 accused and three companies under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code 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.

All the accused are out on bail.

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)

SC rejects corporate honchos’ 2G pleas

The Supreme Court Tuesday junked a batch of petitions by corporate honchos seeking the recall of its April 11, 2011 order barring the Delhi High Court from entertaining any plea against the orders of the 2G trial court.

The court, while rejecting the plea seeking a stop on its monitoring of investigation into 2G scam matters by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate, said that the investigating agency (read CBI) was “no more independent in our country” and the possibility of putting it under pressure was “much more.”

The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan rejected the pleas by four corporate honchos — Shahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka, Rajiv Agarwal, Asif Balwa — and R.K. Chandolia, a former aide of ex-telecom minister A. Raja.

“The nation and the people of this country are seriously concerned with the outcome of the cases involving larger public interest like the one concerning 2G and this court, as the guardian of the constitution, has got the duty and obligation to see that the larger public interest is preserved and protected,” the court said.

The judges said there was no need to interfere with its April 11, 2011 order prohibiting the high court from entertaining any plea against the 2G trial court’s order.

The court said it would be in the larger public interest and in the interest of the accused that the trial should proceed unhampered on a day-to-day basis.

“…when large public interest is involved, it is the bounded duty of all, including the accused, who are presumed to be innocent until proved guilty, to co-operate with the progress of trial” as “early disposal of the trial is also to their advantage, so that their innocence could be proved…”, Justice Radhakrishnan said.

The court said that when the larger public interest was involved it was its responsibility to “assure judicial legitimacy and accountability.”

The court defended its monitoring of the investigation into the 2G scam, saying: “When the persons involved in the crime wield political power and influence, the possibility of putting political pressure on the investigating agency, which is no more independent in our country, is much more.”

The court said it was only monitoring the investigation being undertaken by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate and not monitoring the trial in 2G cases.

The apex court April 11, 2011 said: “We also make it clear that any objection about appointment of special public prosecutor or the assistant advocate or any prayer for staying or impeding progress of the trial can only be made before this court and no other court shall entertain the same. The trial must proceed on a day-to-day basis.”

(Source: IANS)

2G case: Bail plea hearing of five accused deferred

A Delhi court on Monday deferred the hearing on the bail pleas of five accused in the 2G spectrum scam.

The hearing on the bail pleas of Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, both directors of Kusegaon Fruits & Vegetables Pvt Ltd, and Cineyug Films director Karim Morani was deferred till October 17.

The hearing on the pleas of Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa and RK Chandolia, ex-personal secretary to former communications minister A Raja, was deferred till October 18.

Counsel for Balwa and Agarwal told CBI special judge OP Saini that he will only argue on the bail application after the framing of charges.

Earlier, the bail pleas of DMK MP Kanimozhi and Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar were also deferred on the same ground.

The CBI had on Friday opposed the bail pleas of the seven accused in the case on the ground that according to the Supreme Court order, their bail pleas could be entertained only after the framing of charges.

2G auction in continuity with NDA policy: Raja

Defending his role in the allocation of 2G spectrum, former communications minister A. Raja Monday said the decision to auction the scarce radio frequency was a continuity of the policy of the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

“I have only implemented what I have inherited. Dayanidhi Maran (communications minister from 2004-07) resigned, so I became the minister,” Raja’s counsel Sushil Kumar said before special CBI judge O.P. Saini.

The CBI Saturday concluded its arguments on the framing of charges in the 2G phone spectrum case, charging the 14 accused and three companies of causing a loss of 30,984 crore to the exchequer by selling the scarce resource, also called radio frequency that helps carry telecom signals, to private players cheap.

The accused also include former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura and Raja’s personal aide R.K. Chandolia, DMK MP Kanimozhi, Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar, Cineyug’s Karim Morani, Swan Telecom’s Shahid Usman Balwa, his cousin Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal, who are directors of Kusegaon, and Unitech Wireless’ Sanjay Chandra.

The other accused are Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara of Reliance Group, and Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom. In addition, the three companies are DB Realty, Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireles.

Court slams 2G co-accused for not producing legal documents

The Delhi High Court Friday slammed a private firm allegedly involved in the 2G scam for not having complete legal documents related to the dubious transaction of Rs.200 crore as a loan amount to Kalaignar TV which the prosecution has said was a bribe.

Justice Ajit Bharihoke pulled up the defence counsel directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables, Asif Balwa and Rajiv B. Agarwal — named as co-conspirators in the spectrum allocation scam — for discrepancies in the transaction.

While hearing their bail plea, Justice Bharihoke asked the defence if the amount paid to Kalaignar TV was a loan or was it for a shareholding subscription. The defence counsel replied that it was for shareholding subscription “with view to acquire 27-34 percent stake” in the TV channel.

He said since the things were not finalised “we felt that the company was sitting on our money and we requested them to return it”. He also added that there was an agreement between the two firms that if the TV channel faced losses then they may consider it as a loan and return it with interest.

But the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) prosecutor U.U. Lalit opposed the submission, saying that no such clause was made in the agreement as the money was a “bribe amount”.

The court asked the duo to submit their agreement paper. But the documents showed the transaction was between Cineyug Films`and Kalaignar TV. Justice Bharihoke asked how Agarwal had signed the document as he was nowhere shown as a share holder of Cineyug Films.

The court also raised the point that if the money was lent to Kalaignar TV then “where is your signature”. “It is only Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar who has signed the agreement paper.”

“Your conspiracy is been proved as one of the witnesses in the case has clearly stated that Kumar signed the agreement paper and gave to Cineyug Films. Then where is you signature,” said the court.

Meanwhile, the court directed the special CBI court here to supply the original document related to this transaction to Delhi High Court by June 20. The court will also hear the arguments on the bail application of Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa on June 20. June 8, Shahid, Agarwal and Rajiv moved their bail application.

In a related hearing, Justice Bharihoke dismissed the bail pleas of DMK MP Kanimozhi and Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar in the case.

“Considering the financial and political clout of the accused Kanimozhi and Kumar, a possibility cannot be ruled out that if they are freed at this stage, they would interfere with the investigation or try to influence the witnesses,” said the court.

Shahid Usman Balwa, Agarwal and Asif Balwa are lodged in Tihar Jail. Their bail applications were rejected May 24 by a special CBI court here. Shahid Usman Balwa is accused of conspiring with former communications minister Andimuthu Raja and other officials for securing to get a second generation telecom licence.

Agarwal and Asif Balwa have been charged by the CBI of facilitating transfer of Rs.200 crore to Kalaignar TV, in which Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar have 20 percent stake each, in lieu of grant of licence to Swan Telecom. Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar are accused of accepting the illegal gratification.

2G case: No bail for Balwas, Rajiv Aggarwal

A special CBI court Tuesday turned down the bail pleas of Shahid Balwa, Asif Balwa and Rajiv B. Aggarwal in the 2G spectrum scam case. While Shahid Balwa is the promoter of Swan Telecom, the other two are from Kusegaon Realty.

CBI special judge O.P. Saini rejected the bail applications of all three, named as co-accused along with former communications minister A. Raja in the case related to irregularities in the allocation of airwaves to telecom companies, causing huge losses to the exchequer.

The CBI’s first chargesheet April 2 had named, besides Raja, former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Shahid Balwa, Raja’s aide R.K. Chandolia, Swan Telecom’s Vinod Goenka, Unitech’s Sanjay Chandra and three executives of the ADAG – Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara.

Asif Balwa and Rajiv Aggarwal were named in the supplementary chargesheet filed April 25. The Central Bureau of Investigation had also named Cineyug Films’ Karim Morani as well as DMK chief M. Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi and Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar as co-conspirators after it traced an illegal money trail of Rs.214 crore in the scam.

The probe agency claims it has unearthed an illegal money trail that moved from Dynamix to Kusegaon and then on to Cineyug, all part of the DB Group, that promoted Swan Telecom, ending with Kalaignar TV, majority-owned by Karunanidhi’s family.

2G scam: Five corporate honchos’ bail verdict Monday

The Delhi High Court will, on Monday, pronounce its verdict on the bail plea of five senior corporate executives accused in the second generation (2G) spectrum case.

The five accused are Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom, Sanjay Chandra of Unitech and three officials of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group — Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara. Except Pipara, who is in hospital, all the others are in Delhi’s Tihar jail .

Justice Ajit Bharihoke will deliver his judgment post lunch Monday. He had reserved their bail pleas May 9, after hearing the arguments of the accused and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The 2G scam relates to alleged irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum to telecom companies that caused huge losses to the national exchequer.

“Charges against Doshi in the second generation telecom spectrum case are baseless and denial of bail goes against his personal liberty,” his counsel Soli Sorabjee, former attorney general and solicitor general of India, told the court.

Chandra was defended by senior lawyers Ram Jethmalani and K.T.S. Tulsi.

Mukul Rohtagi argued for Goenka, Nair was represented by Rajiv Nayar and Pipara’s bail plea was argued by Neeraj Kishan Kaul.

During the course of arguments, Special Public Prosecutor U.U. Lalit said: “The corporates and the accused were direct beneficiaries of the entire spectrum deal and they were involved in a conspiracy along with (former communications minister) A. Raja to obtain benefit from the grant of spectrum licences”.

He said the corporates were part of a conspiracy where huge amount of money was involved and they had also forged some documents to obtain spectrum licences.

The case reached the high court April 20, after a trial court rejected their bail applications, terming their pleas as “meritless” in the face of “serious allegations” and “incriminating evidence” in a chargesheet filed by the CBI.

The accused had then filed pleas for interim bail for one week so that they could move the high court against the trial court order, but that plea was also rejected.

The five corporate executives, named in the CBI chargesheet, were not arrested during the probe. But they were taken into custody April 20 after the trial court rejected their bail pleas.

Earlier, opposing their bail pleas, the CBI said some of the key witnesses belonging to the corporate world worked directly under the five accused and the possibility of their influencing the witnesses could not be ruled out.The first chargesheet April 2 had named, besides Raja, former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura , Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, Raja’s aide R.K. Chandolia, Goenka, Chandra, Doshi, Nair and Pipara.In its April 25 supplementary chargesheet, the CBI named DMK chief M. Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi, and Kalaignar TV managing director Sharad Kumar as co-conspirators after it traced an illegal money trail of Rs.214 crore in the scam.Both were arrested May 20 and sent to Tihar jail.

The supplementary chargesheet also named Cineyug Film’s Karim Morani as well as Asif Balwa and Rajiv B. Aggarwal of Kusegaon Realty.

Pipara was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences ( AIIMS )) May 4 after he fainted in the courtroom. Except him and Morani, who has been granted exemption from personal appearance in court due to ill-health, all those chargesheeted by the CBI are lodged in the Tihar Jail.CBI prosecutor A.K. Singh said the third supplementary chargesheet will be filed in the first week of July.

Kanimozhi’s bail plea verdict on May 20

In temporary relief for the politically battered first family of Tamil Nadu, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court Saturday deferred till May 20 its verdict on the bail plea of DMK MP Kanimozhi and Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar in connection with their alleged involved in the spectrum case.

CBI Special Judge O.P. Saini, after seeing the crowd in the jampacked court room, said: “The court will pronounce its verdict on the bail plea of the duo on May 20.”

The court had reserved the order on their bail application May 6.

Kanimozhi was accompanied by her mother Rajathi Ammal and her husband Aravindan to mark her presence before the Judge Saini. DMK parliamentarian T.R. Balu was also present.

The CBI had named Kanimozhi, daughter of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi who suffered a rout in the assembly elections, and Sharad Kumar as co-conspirators in its April 25 supplementary chargesheet after it traced an illegal money trail of Rs.214 crore.

Asif Balwa and Rajiv B. Agarwal of Kusegaon Realty, also named as co-conspirator in the case, were also present in the court room.

The fifth co-conspirator, Cineyug Film’s Karim Morani was not present as he got exemption from personal appearance due to his ill health. However, he will have to appear before the court May 18.

The money trail allegedly moved from Dynamix to Kusegaon and then on to Cineyug — all part of the DB Group that promoted Swan Telecom – ending with the Karunanidhi family-run Kalaignar TV. The channel had earlier stated that the Rs.214 crore was a loan and paid back with interest.

DMK MP A. Raja has been accused of allowing the sale of spectrum licenses to telecom companies at low prices in 2008 when he was communications minister, allegedly causing huge losses to the exchequer. He is in jail.

Raja, his aide R.K. Chandolia, former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa were present in the court room. They are charged with conspiring to sell 2G spectrum waves to select companies at rock bottom prices.

Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom, Sanjay Chandra of Unitech and two officials of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group – Gautam Doshi and Hari Nair and – who were also named in the chargesheet were present in the court room.

Surendra Pipara of Reliance, who is in judicial custody, was not produced in the court room as he is undergoing treatment for a heart problem.

Raja, 11 others formally charged in 2G spectrum case

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Saturday filed its first chargesheet of 127 pages with 80,000-page annexure against nine people and three firms in the case involving the allocation of second generation (2G) telecom spectrum.

The chargesheet, brought in seven steel boxes, was filed in the special court of CBI Judge O.P. Saini.

Among those named are former communications minister A. Raja, his personal aide R.K. Chandolia, former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura, Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa, director Vinod Goenka and Unitech Wireless director Sanjay Chandra.

Raja has been accused on several counts.

Three officials from the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group — Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara — as also three companies, Unitech, Reliance and Swan telecom, were also named as accused in the allocation of spectrum.

Among the individuals, four are already in judicial custody. The court issued summons to the others asking them to appear before it by April 13.

The three officials of the Anil Ambani Group were named in the chargesheet for allegedly concealing the in-eligibility of Swan Telecom for the grant of spectrum, said one of the investigative officers in the case.

Unitech, too, the chargesheet alleged was ineligible as the company did not have the necessary amendment in its memorandum and articles of association to enter the telecom business.

“The public is reminded the above findings are based on the investigation done by CBI and evidence collected by it,” the probe agency said. “Under the Indian law, the accused are presumed to be innocent till their guilt is finally established after a fair trial.”

The accused have been chargesheeted under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, including cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy.

“We have 125 witnesses on whose information the agency has attached 654 documents to the chargesheet in the case,” said a CBI official.

“In the entire episode, the government incurred a loss of Rs.30,984 crore. Swan and Unitech telecom were the two companies totally ineligible for the licence allocation,” the official added.

“We are also investigating Kaliagnar TV, Asif Balwa and Rajiv Aggarwal, who are the directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables, and Cineyug and Green House promoters,” said senior public prosecutor specially called from Guwahati, A.K. Singh.

“They are likely to be named in the supplementary chargesheet that will be submitted by end-April,” Singh said, adding, the name of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Private Ltd has since changed to Kusegaon Realty.

Regarding Raja’s close associate Sadiq Batcha, who was found dead under mysterious ciscumstances at his Chennai home last month, the probe agency said that they were tracing the alleged kick-backs in the scam that could have been routed through him.