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Raja, 16 others charged; trial from Nov. 11

Contributed by Anonymous on Saturday, October 22 @ 09:35:33 CDT

India
The Hindu, October 22, 2011

Former Telecom Minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and 15 others including top corporate honchos will be put on trial in the multi-crore 2G spectrum scam with a Delhi Court on Saturday framing charges against them on various counts like criminal conspiracy, breach of trust, cheating and forgery.


All the accused have been charged under Section 409 of IPC for alleged criminal breach of trust which attracts a maximum punishment of life term. The other charges attract various terms in jail.

Special CBI judge O. P. Saini fixed November 11 for commencement of the trial after all the accused refused to plead guilty to various offences.

The framing of charges may now now pave the way for the accused, who have been behind the bars for several months, to seek bail as the Supreme Court had virtually embargoed all the courts not to entertain their plea before framing of charges.

Besides Mr. Raja and Ms. Kanimozhi, the judge framed charges against corporate executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group’s Managing Director Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara, Group’s President and Hari Nair, senior Vice President, Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, his cousin Asif Balwa, their colleague Rajeev Agarwal, Unitech Ltd’s MD Sanjay Chandra and DB Realty MD Vinod Goenka.

The judge also said there was prima facie evidence for framing charges also against Kalaignar TV’s MD Sharad Kumar, Bollywood filmmaker Karim Morani and three telecom firms Reliance Telecom Ltd, Swan Telecom and Unitech (Tamil Nadu) Wireless Ltd.

Mr. Raja’s former Private Secretary R K Chandolia and former Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura will also face trial.

Valuable spectrum

The court said there was prima facie evidence that Mr. Raja, Mr. Behura and others conspired to allocate “valuable spectrum”, entrusted to them in the capacity of being public servants, to Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd in violation of law to cause wrongful gain to the companies and thereby Section 409 (criminal breach of trust) is invoked against them.

Reliance Telecom Ltd and its three top officials, Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair, will also face trial for allegedly floating Swan Telecom as the front company for getting 2G licences.

Kanimozhi charged

While framing charges against Ms. Kanimozhi, the court said she had been “in regular touch” with Mr. Raja to serve the cause of party-run Kalaignar TV, of which she was a Director and 20 percent stakeholder, regarding launching of the channel.

The court said Ms. Kanimozhi along with Mr. Raja was “pursuing the cause of Kalaignar TV not only for getting registration of the company from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting but also for getting it in the Tata Sky bouquet“.

The judge noted that Ms. Kanimozhi was a stakeholder in Kalaignar TV to the tune of 20 per cent equity and was “an active brain” behind its operation and was also widely covered by Kalaignar TV.

“Thus the amount of Rs 200 crore paid by Dynamix Realty to ... was not a genuine business transaction but in the nature of illegal gratification paid in lieu of the Unified Access Service licences...” the judge said.

Special CBI Judge Saini also framed additional charges under Section 193 (giving false evidence) and 120B IPC against Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa and five others for creating false do*****ents to show alleged routing of Rs 200 crore to DMK-run Kalaignar TV as loan transaction.

Criminal conspiracy

Shahid Usman Balwa, the promoter of Swan Telecom and other five co-accused Vinod Goenka, Rajiv Agarwal, Asif Balwa, Karim Morani and Sharad Kumar have also been charged with the offence of hatching criminal conspiracy to file false evidence in judicial proceedings for showing the bribe trail of Rs 200 crore as a loan transaction.

The judge said they were allegedly involved in the money trail and “created false do*****ents to show the bribe amount of Rs 200 crore as loan and with a view to use them in any stage of judicial proceedings and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 193 (giving false evidence) read with 120B IPC and within my cognisance.”

Mr. Raja, and other 13 accused persons are in judicial custody since their arrests.

The charges framed against all the accused under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act entail punishment ranging from six months jail term to rigorous life imprisonment.

The court had reserved its order on October 14 after hearing day-to-day arguments on behalf of accused and the CBI for nearly two months.

Special CBI Prosecutor U U Lalit had argued that there was “sufficient prima facie” evidence against all the accused to proceed with the trial as everyone of them was part of the conspiracy and the intent to commit offence “may be inferred from their knowledge“.

On the other hand, all the accused had vehemently opposed the framing of charges and the plea of CBI that they caused a loss to the state in the grant of spectrum licenses.

The probe is on and CBI is expected to file third charge sheet in the case.

 
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