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).

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)

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)

CBI for Anil & Tina Ambani as witness in 2G trial

Injecting a new element in the 2G spectrum allocation case trial, CBI Thursday asked a Delhi court to “summon” Reliance ADAG Chairman Anil Ambani and his wife Tina Ambani as prosecution witnesses to “arrive at the truth” and for a “just decision” in the case.

CBI moved an application in the court saying Anil Ambani, his wife Tina and 15 other persons are required to be examined as witnesses in the case as “some new facts”, including some bank documents pertaining to money transaction of Rs 997 crore in October 2007 between DB Group Company and Reliance ADA Group companies, have surfaced.

RADAG’s Group company Reliance Telecom Ltd (RTL) and Vinod Goenka, Managing Director of the DB Realty Ltd, are accused in the case.

CBI’s plea to call Anil Ambani as a witness assumes importance as three top Reliance ADAG executives– Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair– are facing trial in the case along with Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka.

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

Special Public Prosecutor U U Lalit told the court that these witnesses are required to be summoned for recording of their statements to ascertain the truth.

After hearing Lalit’s arguments, Special CBI Judge O P Saini issued notices to all the 17 accused, including three firms RTL, Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd, seeking their responses on July 3 on the agency’s plea.

“Issue notices to the accused persons for July 3,” the judge said, adding he would decide on July 3 as to whether it would seek a reply from the accused on a separate CBI’s plea for recalling Department of Telecommunications (DoT) official Nitin Jain, who has been examined earlier, as a witness.

Seeking to summon Anil Ambani, the agency said that “being the head of Reliance ADA Group”, his testimony is necessary to the effect that who was responsible for incorporation of shell companies including Swan Telecom, facing trial in the case.

“He (Anil Ambani), being the head of Reliance ADA Group, his testimony is required to depose as to who was responsible for incorporation of shell companies including Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, Tiger Traders Pvt Ltd, Zebra Consultants Pvt Ltd…. their inter-locking equity structures, corporate structuring of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, investments/divestments into/out of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd By Reliance Telecom Ltd, Reliance Communications Ltd, Vikata Engineering Services Pvt Ltd and other Reliance ADA Group companies….,” the agency said.

CBI, in its plea, said Anil Ambani’s testimony is required to know about “decision to apply for UAS licences on behalf of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, pursuing the process of applications with DoT, transfer of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd to the DB Group in October 2007.”

CBI’s plea to make Anil Ambani its witness came days after former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia supported the contention of the agency that Swan Telecom, which allegedly belonged to ADAG’s Reliance Communications, was “ineligible” for 2G spectrum.

Lalit told the court that CBI had recorded Anil Ambani’s statement under section 161 of the CrPC during the probe in the case but it was not placed before the court earlier as the Reliance ADAG Chairman was not arraigned as a prosecution witness in the case.

He sought the court’s permission to place Ambani’s statement before it today itself but the judge said he will deal with the issue after going through the reply filed by the accused.

Regarding Tina Ambani, CBI said that she was occupying an “important position” in the Reliance ADA Group and was “authorised to transact on behalf of Tiger Traders Pvt Ltd and Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd without any limit on value.”

It said Tina Ambani was a “director and chairman of multiple board meetings of ADAE Ventures Pvt Ltd and AAA Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd, companies which have had multiple transactions with Tiger Traders Pvt Ltd.”

According to the CBI charge sheet, Tiger Traders Pvt Ltd, Zebra Consultants Pvt Ltd, ADAE Ventures Pvt Ltd and AAA Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd were associate companies of Reliance ADA Group.

Besides Anil and Tina Ambani, CBI has sought the court’s permission to summon Raj Pal, then advisor to TRAI, some bank officials and CFSL experts. Apart from them, CBI also named some persons, including the Company Secretary of Etisalat DB Telecom Pvt Ltd, officials of Reliance Energy Ltd.

The agency, in its application, said some documents, which were summoned from various entities after the court’s order, including statements of accounts from ICICI Bank Ltd, were received by them and “from the scrutiny of these statements of accounts, it was revealed that certain transactions took place on October 18-19, 2007.

“However, the supporting instruments/vouchers/documents, on the basis of which these transactions/entries were recorded could not be summoned as these transactions were unknown until the said documents were produced by ICICI Bank Ltd,” it said.

CBI told the court that summoning of these documents “are also essential to place the truth” before it and it would establish the true picture of the transactions reflected in the said statements of accounts.

“On the facts and circumstances of the present case, the exigencies of justice require that the discretion vested in this court is exercised and the prayer made by the prosecution is allowed,” CBI said adding they are conducting the trial with utmost sincerity.

CBI also moved a separate plea for recalling prosecution witness Nitin Jain, whose statement has already been recorded, saying there “appears to be slight inconsistency” in his testimony regarding the cut off date.

The agency had alleged in its charge sheet that the top officials of Reliance ADAG were also involved in day-to-day affairs of Swan and Tiger Traders Pvt Ltd.

Group MD of Reliance ADAG Gautam Doshi, group President Surendra Pipara and senior vice president Hari Nair, along with Reliance Telecom Ltd, have been charge sheeted for entering into a criminal conspiracy to cheat the government by getting licenses in an illegal manner.


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.

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.

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 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.

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.