Friday, June 14, 2024
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Supreme Court bails out five executives of 2G case

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to five executives who were accused in the second generation (2G) spectrum allocation case, seven months after they were jailed, even as a stay was granted on shifting the trial to Tihar jail.

The five co-accused granted bail are Sanjay Chandra of Unitech Wireless, Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom and Reliance Group’s Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair. They are among the 14 co-accused in the case, who include former telecom minister A. Raja.

A bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice H.L. Dattu ordered the release of the five co-accused, in custody since April, on a surety of Rs.5 lakh each but also allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to seek a review if the bail was misused.

“We reserve the liberty to the CBI to make appropriate application for the modification, recalling the order passed by us, if for any reason, the applicants violate any of the conditions imposed by this court,” the judgment said.

“There will be no inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts or the case so as to dissuade him to disclose such facts to the court or to any other authority,” said the court, asking the accused to be present in court when required.

Their trial is being conducted by a special CBI court presided over by Judge O.P. Saini. The proceedings will continue in Patiala House courtroom till a panel appointed by the Delhi High Court identifies an alternative location.

A five-judge bench of the high court headed by Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri stayed Tuesday’s notification of the registrar general to shift the case to Tihar Jail after the accused said it was illegal and will inconvenience them as well as their lawyers. Now, a committee comprising the registrar general, special Judge Saini, a district judge of the Patiala House court and a few lawyers representing the accused will identify the place where the trial can be conducted.

The developments had led to a celebratory mood, notably among the relatives of the five accused, in the Patiala House court. Judge Saini asked them to vacate the courtroom and not interfere with the proceedings. They later distributed chocolates outside. In a related development, out of the nine accused still in judicial custody, six of them led by Raja’s party colleague and Rajya Sabha Member Kanomozhi Karunanidhi moved the Delhi High Court for an early hearing of their bail pleas, slated for Dec 1.

Regarding the bail Wednesday, the five executives had challenged the judgment and common order of the Delhi High Court delivered May 23, which had rejected their pleas given the magnitude of the offence and gravity of the accusations against them. The five, however, contended in the apex court that the rejection of bail by the high court was bad in law and that their continued incarceration amounted to a pre-trial punishment, which violated their constitutional right.

“The courts below committed a grave infraction of the Article 21 of the Constitution as there is no evidence that the petitioner may frustrate the trial by tampering with the witnesses or the records.”

The probe agency had filed the first set of charges April 2 in which it had named as accused Raja, his former personal secretary R.K. Chandolia, former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura, Swan Telecom’s Shahid Usman Balwa, Goenka and Chandra. It had also named as accused Reliance Group’s Doshi, Pipara and Nair, besides three companies – Unitech Wireless, Swan Telecom and Reliance Telecom.

The supplementary charges April 25 then included Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi, Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar, Cineyug Film`s Karim Morani, and the directors of Kusegaon, Asif Balwa and Rajeev B. Agarwal.

All the accused were taken into judicial custody and lodged in Tihar Jail here. (IANS)

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