2G PMLA case: Court warns ED of imposing exemplary cost

Enforcement Directorate (ED) today faced the ire of a special court which warned the agency that it would impose “exemplary cost” on it for wasting court’s time due to non-availability of prosecution witnesses for recording of their statements in a 2G scam-related case.

Special CBI Judge O P Saini was irkanimoked as no prosecution witness turned up before the court during the day for recording of statement in the ED’s 2G scam-related money laundering case in which ex-Telecom Minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and others are facing trial.

“It is impressed upon the prosecution (ED) to summon two or three witnesses for each date so that presence of at least one or two witnesses is assured in the court, as almost all witnesses are from outstation.

“Since no other matter is pending before this court, the whole day is lost on account of non-availability of witnesses. If the prosecution fails to procure the presence of witnesses in future, it shall be subjected to exemplary cost for wasting the time of the court as it has happened earlier also on many occasions,” the judge said and fixed the matter for tomorrow.

During the hearing, ED’s special public prosecutor Naveen Kumar Matta told the court that two witnesses, Raj Kumar Tharad from Kolkata and Surender Mohan Prasad from Mumbai, were summoned and served for recording of their statements today.

Matta said that Tharad has sent a request saying that duly certified documents could not be procured from the bank which were related to the case whereas Sharma did not come to the court due to a family function.

The court “reluctantly allowed” the submissions of the ED prosecutor.

Raja, Kanimozhi, DMK leader M Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal, Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd (STPL) promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka and 14 others, including nine firms, are facing trial in the case in which the ED had on April 25 filed a charge sheet against them for alleged offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

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)

SC to hear Reliance’s plea in 2G case

Reliance Telecom Ltd (RTL) on Monday moved the Supreme Court challenging trial court’s order summoning Reliance ADAG chairman Anil Ambani and his wife Tina Ambani as prosecution witnesses in 2G spectrum allocation scam case.


A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, before whom the matter was mentioned for an urgent hearing, agreed to hear the case and posted it for July 24 before an “appropriate bench”.

RTL, facing trial in the case, moved the Supreme Court against the trial court’s order as the apex court had earlier restrained all other courts, including high court, from entertaining any plea arising out of 2G scam case.
The trial court had on July 19 allowed CBI’s plea that the testimony of Anil Ambani and Tina Ambani 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 Anil Ambani, Tina and 11 others as prosecution witnesses was essential for arriving at a just decision in the case.

Testimony of Anil and Tina is required to prove the facts “pertaining to incorporation of shell companies as some of the witnesses examined earlier have not been able to do so,” it had said.

The court had dismissed the contentions of the counsel for the accused persons that CBI’s plea “suffers from the vice of delay” saying the process of examination of prosecution witnesses is still underway.

RADAG’s Group company RTL is an accused in the case. Three top Reliance ADAG executives — Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair — are also facing trial in the case.

The agency had alleged RTL used Swan Telecom, an ineligible firm, as its front company to get 2G licenses and the costly radio waves.

(Source: IANS)

2G case undertrials move SC against its bench orders

Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa and others accused on Monday moved the Supreme Court against the order of its bench which had stayed proceedings on all petitions relating to the 2G spectrum case before the Delhi High Court.

They sought staying of the April 11, 2011 and November 9, 2012 orders of a special bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi which had directed that no court other than the apex court shall entertain any application relating to the case.

The petition on their behalf was mentioned by senior advocates Ram Jethmalani and Rajeev Dhavan before a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir which said it will go through their averments and documents in the chamber and decide on giving them the hearing.

The counsel submitted that the orders of the two-judge bench, which is monitoring the probe into the 2G case, violates the fundamental and constitutional rights of the accused and were without jurisdiction.

They also questioned the authority of the bench for monitoring developments in the case after filing of the charge sheets contending that it was against the guidelines of the apex court which had clearly stated that the monitoring of the case comes to an end with filing of the charge sheet.

Besides Balwa, others who have approached the apex court are Vinod Goenka, promoter of Swan Telecom, Asif Balwa and Rajiv Aggarwal (both directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd).

Aggrieved by the orders, they have sought framing of fresh guidelines to be followed by Constitutional courts in relation to monitoring of criminal investigation and other facets of such probe and for a direction that since the trial in the case has already started there should be no further supervision by the apex court.

While seeking directions to set aside the two orders, they submitted that the directions are bad in law as they have been passed without hearing them and that directly impinges upon their Constitutional rights.

“The orders passed by the special bench of this court could not have abridge the hierarchy of courts and that all proceedings have to be conducted in accordance with law. The hierarchy of courts remains unfettered, unhindered and unaffected by the above-said direction,” the petition said.

The November 9 order restraining high court from hearing the 2G cases was passed after the CBI had moved an application in this regard.

There were 20 petitions or applications pending before the high court after the filing of the charge sheets in the 2G case.

The bench had issued notices and sought replies of various parties within six weeks on the CBI application.

 

PTI

TRAI, law ministry views on 2G unsolicited, CBI tells court

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), probing the 2G spectrum allocation scam, Thursday rejected reports of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the law ministry and told a Delhi court that their views on the case were unsolicited.

 

CBI Special Public Prosecutor U.U. Lalit told the special CBI court, presided over by Judge O.P. Saini, that the law ministry’s report to department of telecommunications (DoT) defining the term ‘associates’ is unsolicited. The report implied that some of the telecom licence applicants were not associated with each other.

 

The CBI refused to bring the TRAI and the law ministry’s report on record and told the court that if the it wanted it to be placed before it then it should pass an order.

The probe agency said that the covering letter of the TRAI report that came Aug 28 was unsolicited and contradicted the expert committee’s view. The expert panel had pegged the spectrum’s value at Rs.5,500-9,500 crore.

The CBI told the court that it only asked the TRAI to estimate the actual price of the spectrum. The CBI has thus written to the telecom authority highlighting contradictions.

 

It said it would place only the TRAI report and not its covering letter in court.

 

Lalit said that the TRAI report, sent to the CBI last month, implied that there was no loss to the exchequer on account of former communications minister A. Raja giving away licences to nine companies below market rates.

 

‘We are not saying that we are fully relying on that particular report. I maintain my stand and we have travelled far beyond,’ said Lalit, adding that the CBI was bound by the submission made in the charge sheet.

 

After the TRAI report was submitted before the special court last week, the court said that it would hear arguments based on the report Sep 15 – the day fixed for framing of charges in the 2G case.

 

The CBI placed the report before the court after counsel of Raja and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa asked the court seeking direction to the CBI to bring two reports – the TRAI report and a report from the law ministry to the DoT on definition of ‘associates’ – on record.

 

The CBI said that the application was not maintainable and this should not be taken on record.

 

‘The CBI will not work on the accused’s direction, we are probing the case in right direction,’ Lalit said.

 

‘The court is duty bound to direct the agency to produce all the documents or case diary related to the investigation,’ said the defence.

 

Raja submitted before the court that the CBI should be asked to give me even a single piece of paper to show that I conspired with the then finance minister to cause a loss to the government through the allocation of spectrum.

Income-Tax officials quiz Raja in court custody

The Income-Tax (I-T) department Wednesday interrogated former communications minister Andimuthu Raja, who is currently in judicial custody for alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum allocation case, an official said.

The I-T team reached the Patiala House Court premises here around 2 p.m. and questioned the DMK leader. “We are quizzing him regarding his family income,” said the official.

The I-T department officials got permission from a Delhi court July 21 to interrogate six accused — Raja, Swan Telecom director Vinod Goenka, its promoter Shahid Usman Balwa and three Reliance Group officials — in judicial custody itself.

The department earlier moved three separate applications, seeking permission to interrogate the accused.Their interrogation would continue till July 29, the I-T official said.

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 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.