2G scam: Bail pleas of five corporate honchos rejected (Lead)

May 23rd, 2011 - 6:43 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Monday rejected the bail pleas of five senior corporate executives accused in the 2G telecom spectrum allocation case.

In a related development, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) trial court rejected the anticipatory bail plea of co-conspirator in the case and Cineyug Films’ founder Karim Morani. He is the only accused who has not been arrested.

High court’s Justice Ajit Bharihoke denied bail to Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom, Sanjay Chandra of Unitech Wireless 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 Bharihoke said: “All the five bail application are dismissed.”

As the court pronounced its verdict, wives of Chandra and Goenka broke down.

“This is an offence of the highest magnitude which not only impacts the society at large but also puts a question mark on the governance in the country which can adversely affect the economy of the country,” said the court.

On May 9, the court reserved its decision on their bail pleas after hearing the arguments of the accused and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

In its 34-page order, the court said: “The fact that the charge sheet against the petitioners has been filed and there is no allegation that the petitioners tried to influence the witnesses during investigation, cannot be a guarantee that during the trial the petitioners would not try to interfere with the process of justice.”

“It cannot be ignored that during investigation the petitioners could not have known the identity of the witnesses examined. The situation has changed after the filing of charge sheet. Petitioners are now aware of the identity of the witnesses and incriminating statements made by them during investigation.”

“Therefore, given the magnitude of the offence and the role played by the petitioners in the scam, there is a reasonable likelihood of the petitioners” influencing the witnesses, particularly those employed in companies controlled by them, Justice Bharihoke said.

The case relates to alleged irregularities in the allocation of spectrum (airwave) to telecom companies that caused huge losses to the national exchequer.

Senior advocates Ram Jethmalani and K.T.S. Tulsi appeared for Chandra and former attorney general Soli Sorabjee argued on behalf of Doshi.

Mukul Rohtagi appeared for Goenka, Rajiv Nayar represented Nair and Neeraj Kishan Kaul appeared for Pipara.

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”.

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” filed by the CBI.

The accused 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 charge sheet, were not arrested during the probe. But they were taken into custody April 20 after the trial court rejected their bail pleas.

The first charge sheet April 2 named 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 charge sheet, 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. Both were arrested May 20 and sent to Tihar jail.

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

Pipara was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) May 4 after he fainted in court.

In the trial court, the anticipatory bail plea of Morani, who has been granted exemption from personal appearance in court due to ill-health, was rejected.

“His plea is dismissed and he will have to appear before the court Tuesday,” said CBI Special Judge O.P. Saini.

CBI prosecutor A.K. Singh said the third supplementary charge sheet in the case would be filed in the first week of July.

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