Raja, aides sent to custody for five days, DMK backs its man (Roundup)February 3rd, 2011 - 8:56 pm ICT by IANS
By Minu Jain
New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) Former communications minister A. Raja and two of his aides will spend the next five days in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a special court directed Thursday, a day after the trio were arrested for their suspected role in the multibillion rupee scam over the allocation of airwaves for second generation (2G) phone services.Raja, alleged to be at the centre of what is being billed as the biggest corruption scandal in India, however got the backing from his party, Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK, which said his arrest did not mean he was guilty.
But that may have been scant consolation for the one time powerful DMK politician, who along with his former personal secretary R.K. Chandolia and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura spent the night in the CBI headquarters and will be grilled extensively in the coming days.
While the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) estimated the losses to be Rs.58,000 crore ($12.8 billion) and Rs.1.76 lakh crore ($40 billion), special CBI judge O.P. Saini put the figure at Rs.22,000 crore ($4.8 billion).
Stating that the plea for the custody of the three was justified, Saini said: “The allegation against the accused are that they allotted the unified access service licences in violation of rules and procedures and caused huge loss estimated to be Rs.22,000 crore to the government.
“The allegation against the trio are very serious on the face of it and required no elaboration. Accordingly, considering the nature of the allegation, seriousness and gravity of offences, there is a consequent need of interrogation of the accused persons,” he added.
The three will be medically examined every 48 hours, and their counsel and family members will be allowed to meet them for 30 minutes every day.
The court also permitted Behura to be taken to the Indraprastha Apollo hospital Feb 5 to meet his wife before and after her operation — if she undergoes one.
As people milled around the Patiala House premises and camera crews jostled for a better view, the 47-year-old Raja, dressed in a grey safari suit, appeared calm.
CBI counsel said Raja had caused losses by favouring some telecom firms like Swan Telecom and Unitech. He argued that Raja had been evasive during his earlier interrogation and his custody was essential.
The agency arrested the three for misuse of office in the allocation of airwaves, a finite national resource, and amassing wealth higher than the known and legal sources of their income.
They have been charged with criminal conspiracy, abuse of official provision and unduly favouring private companies in the 2G spectrum allocation.
Raja’s counsel told the court that they were not the only people involved.
Raja quit Nov 14 after the CAG’s indicted him for irregularities in the 2008 spectrum allocation.
The opposition, which had placed Raja at the centre of its campaign against the government and crippled the winter session of parliament, has said the arrest was too little too late.
In Tamil Nadu, former chief minister and AIADMK leader J. Jayalalithaa said Raja’s arrest was meaningless and reiterated the need for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the spectrum scam.
Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari told reporters that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “was responsible for the corruption scandals”, saying Raja and Commonwealth Games chief organiser Suresh Kalmadi had only undertaken what the cabinet had decided.
The DMK, a key ally of the United Progressive Alliance and which faces state elections this year, backed Raja strongly, saying his arrest did not make him guilty.
“DMK is with Raja. Raja is in DMK,” party spokesperson and Lok Sabha MP T.K.S. Elangovan said in Chennai. He said Raja would come out clean.
On Wednesday, the party had maintained a studied silence on the arrest with no leaders willing to comment on the matter.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi brushed off speculation of political troubles ahead and reiterated Thursday that the “case against Raja would not affect the Congress-DMK alliance in Tamil Nadu”.
- More people involved in 2G scam, says Raja's lawyer - Feb 03, 2011
- Raja, aides in five-day police custody (Second Lead) - Feb 03, 2011
- CBI court sends Raja, aides to 5-day custody (Third Lead) - Feb 03, 2011
- Court extends A. Raja's CBI custody - Feb 08, 2011
- After 15 months, Raja is out of jail (Roundup) - May 15, 2012
- After 15 months in jail, Raja gets bail (Lead) - May 15, 2012
- Raja gets bail, can't visit DoT or Tamil Nadu (Third Lead) - May 15, 2012
- Raja to depose from jail via video-conferencing (Second Lead) - Mar 01, 2011
- Raja granted bail, can't visit DoT or Tamil Nadu (Fourth Lead) - May 15, 2012
- Raja goes to Tihar Jail, to get homecooked food (Lead) - Feb 17, 2011
- 2G: Court allows Behura to appear before JPC - Mar 30, 2012
- CBI gets two more days for questioning Raja (Lead) - Feb 08, 2011
- Timeline of 2G spectrum case - May 20, 2011
- 2G scam: Raja remanded to CBI custody for four more days - Feb 10, 2011
- Raja, aides in five-day CBI custody (Lead) - Feb 03, 2011
Tags: access service, allegation against, cag, cbi, central bureau of investigation, comptroller and auditor general, consequent need, consolation, corruption scandal, indraprastha apollo hospital, interrogation, jain, minu, personal secretary, rs 1, saini, second generation, seriousness, service licences, siddharth