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.

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.

CBI selectively targeting some in 2G case: Shahid Balwa

Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa Monday told a Delhi court that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was selectively targeting some firms in the 2G spectrum case.

He asked how could he have caused a loss to the national exchequer when the prime minister and Communications Minister Kapil Sibal have said that there was no loss in the 2G case.

“The exact loss to the exchequer declared by the CBI is based on the assumption that if there was an option…, then what is the amount of profit it could get…when there was no option, then there is no question of loss incurred,” said Majid Memon, counsel for Balwa, who is in jail for alleged involvement in the 2G scam.

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 case: Court allows exemption plea of Karim Morani

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court Tuesday allowed Cineyug Film’s Karim Morani, accused in the 2G spectrum case, exemption from personal appearance in court.

Judge O.P. Saini said: ‘Accused Morani’s exemption plea from personal appearance is allowed. However, he will have to appear before the court on May 12.’

On May 6, Morani had got exemption as he was admitted to Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital.

The defence counsel for Morani submitted that his client was still in hospital so he might not be able to appear before the court.

A similar application by DMK MP Kanimozhi and Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar for exemption from personal appearance in the court was rejected by a special court May 7.

The first chargesheet filed April 2 named former communications minister A. Raja, former telecom secreatry Siddharth Behura, Raja’s private Secretary R.K. Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, director of Mumbai-based DB Realty Vinod Goenka, managing director of Unitech Sanjay Chandra and three senior officials of the Anil Ambani group for conspiring to sell spectrum waves at rock bottom prices.

The CBI filed the second chargesheet April 25. It named DMK MP Kanimozhi, Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa, Sharad Kumar, Karim Morani and Kusegaon Realty director Rajiv Aggarwal.

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.”

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.