Bail pleas of co-accused in 2G spectrum case opposed (Roundup)

April 13th, 2011 - 7:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Wednesday opposed the bail applications of five corporate officials, presented in a special court here, in regard to the case involving award of second generation (2G) telecom spectrum.

The matter will be heard again Friday.

The co-accused were presented 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.

The probe agency opposed the bail applications of 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.

“The fact that they were not arrested during the investigation does not entitle them to be released on bail,” U.U. Lalit, special public prosecutor appointed by the Supreme Court, told the special court of the probe agency, presided over by Judge O.P. Saini.

“They have to justify their bail as they have now been charged as co-accused,” Lalit said, adding that the circumstances have now changed ae earlier all of them were suspects but now they are accused in the case.

Former additional solicitor general Mukul Rohatagi, appearing for Goenka, who is also the managing director of DB Realty, said: “The accused is entitled for release on bail ipso facto, because of the fact he was not arrested during investigations.”

Seema Gulati, Sachin Aneja and Hariharan, appearing for Doshi, Pipara and Nair, advanced similar arguments. They said as formal charges had already been filed and their clients had been cooperating with the investigating agency they deserved bail.

“Power to arrest is different from the need to arrest,” Gulati said.

Senior advocate K.T.S. Tulsi, appearing for Chandra, asked: “The CBI did not arrest him earlier. Then why are they opposing his bail plea now? The prosecution can`t change its view, as no circumstance has changed except for public prosecutor’s appointment.”

But the public prosecutor opposed their pleas and sought time to file replies.

After hearing the matter, the special judge allowed the prayer of the public prosecutor and fixed April 15 as the date for hearing the matter. He also ordered status quo, and asked the co-accused to be present on that date.

“Considering nature of the case, prayer of prosecutor is reluctantly allowed,” the judge said, adding: “The five accused persons, who have filed bail applications, are directed to appear in person on the date.”

In the formal charges April 2, running into some 80,000 pages including annexures, the probe agency had also named three companies — Unitech, Swan Telecom and Reliance Telecom.

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.

Raja, his aide and the officials from the Department of Telecom (DoT) face charges of conspiracy. The former minister also faces forgery charges, while Chandolia and Behura have been accused of misusing official position.

A leader of the DMK, Raja resigned Nov 14 as telecom minister after it came to light that the official auditor had held that his policy on spectrum allocation resulted in a loss of several billion dollars to the exchequer.

He was arrested by the probe agency in the national capital Feb 2, along with Behura and Chandolia, while Balwa was arrested from Pune on Feb 8.

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