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: Trial completes one year, over 100 witnesses examined

The high-profile accused like former telecom minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi completed a year in the ongoing trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case, yielding the recording of over 3,000 pages of depositions in examination of over 100 witnesses.

The trial which has started Nov. 11 last year, was set after special CBI judge O P Saini had framed charges against 17 accused, including three telecom firms, named in the first two charge sheets saying there was sufficient prima facie evidence against them.

For the last one year, apart from Raja and 16 others, the court has also been holding the trial of Essar Group and Loop Telecom promoters, who have been arrayed as accused in a case linked to the 2G scam.

The court has recorded statements of 77 CBI witnesses in the case in which Raja is the key accused, while in the case against Essar and Loop promoters, it has concluded recording statements of 28 prosecution witnesses.

As per the court sources, around 3,000 pages of evidence have been recorded by the judge till now.

The proceedings in the case, conducted by the special CBI Court set up exclusively to deal with the 2G spectrum case, is also being monitored by the Supreme Court.

Besides Raja and Kanimozhi, former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja’s erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra, three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG) – 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, Kalaignar TV director Sharad Kumar and Bollywood producer Karim Morani are also accused in the case.

If I committed crime, so did Tatas: Chandolia

Targeting the Tatas and lobbyist Niira Radia, former communications minister A. Raja’s ex-personal secretary R.K. Chandolia Friday said if he could be accused in the 2G spectrum scam, then so should they.

Chandolia began his arguments in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court by opposing the charges against him and saying he was a government official who was following the order of superiors.

“The deal took place between Radia and the Tatas, they are not in jail, and my client who is not involved is in the dock,” Chandolia’s counsel Vijay Aggarwal told CBI special judge O.P. Saini.

His counsel said: “If the crime is done by my client, then Tata and Radia are also on equal footing.”Chandolia’s counsel argued he just followed the orders of A. Raja. “It was Raja who took Niira Radia’s help… and my client just followed the orders,” said Chandolia’s counsel.

“Radia called the office that time, my client had picked up the phone and she wanted speak to Raja. As he was not there she asked him to tell Raja that the KTV problem has been sorted out,” said Aggarwal.

“My client only conveyed what happened, how can he be a conspirator?” he asked. The counsel also added there are no recorded conversations of Chandolia.The counsel further questioned the CBI’s role. “We all know that CBI is the most clean agency, but it does not have guts to touch the Tatas and Radia.”

Defending Chandolia, the counsel told the court that his client was a personal assistant and had no major role to play.”He was just assisting the minister in his day to day work and he was not supposed to apply his mind and he only did what his master (Raja) said…

“Can an assistant ask the master what decision have they made? How is he concerned and what is his role?” the counsel argued.Chandolia is lodged in Tihar jail along with Raja.

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.

CBI to give Radia tapes to 2G accused

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will by July 12 provide taped coversations of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia to all those accused in the 2G spectrum scam case, the probe agency said in court Thursday.

The investigation agency, while responding to the plea by the accused, said before special CBI judge O.P Saini: “The accused have said the transcript of the conversations in the tape will help them in arguments…”

Tapes containing Radia’s conversations with former communications and IT minister Raja and some industrialists and journalists have surfaced. The tapes were submitted as part of the evidence in a public suit over the 2G spectrum allotment row.

The accused in the spectrum scam, currently in Tihar Jail, include high profile names such as former telecom minister A. Raja, former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Shahid Balwa, Raja’s aide R.K. Chandolia, Swan Telecom’s Vinod Goenka, Unitech Wireless Sanjay Chandra and three ADAG executives – Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara.

The CBI 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.

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: Morani’s bail plea dismissed

A Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court here Monday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Cineyug Films’ founder Karim Morani, named as co-conspirator of 2G spectrum allocation scam, saying his health report was normal.

“In view of the medical condition of the accused being normal and stable, I am satisfied that no case for anticipatory bail on medical grounds is made out. The application is without merit and same is dismissed,” CBI Special Judge O.P. Saini said.

Morani, who was exempted from personal appearance till now, will have to be present in court Tuesday.

Defence counsel Siddharth Luthra argued that Morani, 62, was suffering from various ailments for the last 31 years.

Luthra said Morani had undergone angioplasty in 1991, 1993 and 1997, and had open heart surgery in 2007.

He also said that Morani had received a sixth bypass graft and required reboring of his two major vessels. He had also been advised complete rest due to a chest pain.

“My client company is a big name in the field of music and entertainment. He has done a perfectly legal commercial transaction,” Luthra added.

Rejecting his bail plea, the court said that as per Mumbai’s J.J. Hospital’s report, Morani is stable.

Luthra had submitted the medical report from J.J. Hospital, as was demanded by the court May 10 when he was exempted from personal appearance due to ill-health.

Meanwhile, Lilavati Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai has also described Morani’s condition as stable, with blood pressure at 120 by 70 mg, which is also normal, added the judge.

“I may also add that in case of need, proper medical facilities are available in Tihar Jail itself and if a prisoner requires any further treatment, he is immediately taken to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital or AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences),” he said.

“I may add that co-accused Surendra Pipara is already being provided best of medical facilities at AIIMS,” the judge said.

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

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

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.

Except for Morani and Pipara, who is in judicial custody at AIIMS here, all those named in the CBI chargesheets are lodged in Tihar Jail.

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.

Five more named co-accused in 2G phone spectrum case

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Monday named five more people, including Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi, co-accused in the case involving the award of second generation (2G) phone spectrum.

The supplementary chargesheet, the second thus far, filed by the premier probe agency in a special court here also names as co-accused Sharad Kumar of Kalaignar TV, Karim Morani of Cineyug Films, and Asif Balwa and Rajiv B. Agarwal of Kusegaon Realty.

‘I don’t want to comment now,’ Kanimozhi told in Chennai.

Dayalu Ammal, wife of Karunanidhi and stepmother of Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi, does not figure in the charges filed Monday as speculated by a section of the media.

The probe agency had first named as accused former communications minister A. Raja, his personal aide R.K. Chandolia, former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa.

Later, five more corporate executives were added to the list as co-accused — Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom, Sanjay Chandra of Unitech and three officials of Anil Ambani Group: Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara.

All nine are in judicial custody.

The case involves award of telecom spectrum to private players, which the investigative agency says was done in a fraudulent manner, causing losses worth billions of rupees to the exchequer.

The case had taken a serious turn after Raja, a leader of the DMK, resigned Nov 14 as communications minister. This was after the official auditor held that his policy on spectrum allocation had led to a loss of several billion dollars to the exchequer.

While the former minister was arrested by the probe agency in the national capital Feb 2, along with Behura and Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoter Balwa was arrested from Pune on Feb 8.

Raja, his aide and officials from the Department of Telecom (DoT) face charges for their roles in awarding radio frequency. The former minister also faces charges of forgery, while Chandolia and Behura have been accused of misusing their official positions.

Judicial custody for five co-accused in 2G telecom spectrum case

Five senior corporate executives named as co-accused in the second generation (2G) telecom spectrum case were sent to 14 days of judicial custody Wednesday after a city court denied them bail and then interim relief.

Those whose pleas for bail and interim relief were dismissed by Special Judge O.P Saini are: Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom, Sanjay Chandra of Unitech and three officials of Reliance Anil Dhirubhani Ambani Group — Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara.

Immediately after, senior counsel K.T.S Tulsi moved the Delhi High Court on behalf of all the five accused and sought a hearing of their appeals, challenging the lower court order. Justice Vikramjit Sen said an appropriate bench will hear the matter Thursday.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had named them co-accused, along with former telecom minister A. Raja, his personal aide R.K. Chandolia, former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa.

These four are already in judicial custody.

“There are serious allegation against the applicants. There is incriminating evidence on record. The CBI has expressed apprehension that the accused may tamper with evidence by trying to win over witnesses and they may flee from justice,” the judge said.

“These apprehension cannot be dismissed as too farfetched at this stage, in the light of serious nature of the case,” he said in the 42-page order delivered Wednesday on the bail pleas of the five accused.

As soon as bail was declined, all the five moved pleas for some interim relief before the court, saying 7-15 days may be given to them so that they can approach a higher court, as they were not arrested during investigations.

“I am not inclined to pass any order regarding status quo or grant of interim bail at this stage as prayed,” the judge said. “All the five should be taken into custody and sent to Tihar Jail. They need to appear before the court throughout the trial.”

The verdict came after Judge Saini had reserved his order last Friday after hearing the arguments of all sides, including that of Supreme Court appointed prosecutor U.U. Lalit who appeared for the premier investigative agency and opposed the bail pleas.

While Lalit appeared for the CBI, former additional solicitor general Mukul Rohatgi appeared for Goenka, Tulsi for Chandra, Seema Gulati for Nair, Ranjit Kumar for Doshi, and Hariharan for Pipara.

In the formal charges running into some 80,000 pages including annexures filed with the special CBI court, also named as co-accused were three firms — Unitech, Swan Telecom and Reliance Telecom.

Among these corporates, Unitech was represented by S.S. Gandhi, Swan by Amit Desai and Sidharth Patnaik, and Reliance Telecom by Manali Singh with authorised representative Nitin Aggarwal.

All the counsel for the accused argued that since their clients were not arrested for past two years, charges had already been officially filed and they had also cooperated with the CBI, they were entitled to bail. This was challenged by the probe agency.

The case took a a serious turn after Raja, a leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, resigned Nov 14 as telecom minister after the official auditor held that his policy on spectrum allocation had led to a loss of several billion dollars to the exchequer.

While the former minister was subsequently arrested by the probe agency in the national capital Feb 2, along with Behura and Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoter Balwa was arrested from Pune on Feb 8.

Raja, his aide and officials from the Department of Telecom (DoT) face charges for their roles in the award of scarce radio frequency. The former minister also faces charges of forgery, while Chandolia and Behura have been accused of misusing official position.

“It is unfortunate the bail plea of Vinod Goenka has been rejected by the lower court. We have immense faith in our judicial system and confident that justice will prevail,” said N. Shridhar, group director for DB Realty, reacting to Wednesday’s verdict.

“We would like to state these developments will not affect the operations of DB Realty in any manner whatsoever. There is no direct or indirect shareholding of DB Realty in the telecom business and the company will continue its business in the normal course.”