Over 15 months after his arrest, former telecom minister A Raja was on Tuesday granted bail by a Delhi court in the 2G spectrum case.
“The bail application is allowed,” Special CBI Judge O P Saini said. The court granted bail to the DMK MP on a personal bond of Rs 20 lakh and two sureties of the same amount.
The court while granting bail imposed conditions on Raja that he will not visit Tamil Nadu without its prior permission and will not go to the office of the Department of Telecom (DoT).
The court, in its 14-page bail order, also said that Raja would not try to influence any witnesses while on bail. Raja was arrested on February 2, 2011.
Reacting to the news, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa said the 2G scam case was getting diluted.
Meanwhile, the DMK welcomed the decision. “We welcome the court’s verdict and are hopeful that he will come out and prove his innocence,” DMK leader Tiruchi Siva said.
Asked if Raja would attend Parliament or do party work, Siva said that he will take part in activities as per conditions laid by the court for his bail. Siva said that some DMK leaders may visit the jail at the time of the release of the former telecom minister.
The court, while granting bail to 49-year-old Raja, said all the co-accused in the case have already been granted bail and his further detention would not serve any purpose.
“In the end considering the progress of the trial, period of the custody of the accused and the fact that all other accused have been released on bail, I am of the opinion that further detention of the accused would not serve any purpose and for these reasons, I am inclined to admit the applicant/ accused (Raja) to bail,” the special judge said.
On the apprehension of the CBI that if granted bail Raja may influence witnesses and tamper with evidence, the court said it addressed them by imposing conditions and restrictions on the accused. The court noted that entire evidence in the case was documentary and was in its custody.
“Moreover, this apprehension of the prosecution (that Raja may influence the witnesses and tamper with the evidence) can be addressed by imposing conditions and restrictions on the accused.
“Furthermore, almost entire evidence in the case is documentary in nature and the same is in the custody of the court,” the judge said. The court also directed Raja to surrender his passport as a prerequisite for bail.
Raja, who has remained in judicial custody for over 15 months since his arrest, had sought bail on the ground of parity as other 13 co-accused have already secured bail either from the Supreme Court, the Delhi high court or the trial court.
Raja has alleged the case against him is “false and fabricated” and “not sustainable in law.”
The CBI had vehemently opposed Raja’s bail, saying he could not be released on the ground of parity as the charges levelled against him were of serious nature. The agency has alleged that DMK-run Kalaignar TV had received Rs 200 crore as bribe from Shahid Balwa‘s DB Group through a circuitous route as a quid pro quo for favours shown by Raja in spectrum allocation.
The agency has also claimed that during the probe, it had come to light that Raja and others had received a bribe of another Rs 200 crore from certain companies under its scanner in connection with the spectrum scam.
The CBI had raised questions on Raja’s alleged links with Mauritius-based Delphi Investment Ltd, in which Reliance Telecom Ltd had allegedly transferred its shares and said if released on bail at this stage, he might tamper with evidence.
Raja had sought bail, saying the Supreme Court, while granting bail to former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, had not distinguished the case of public servant from that of others. He had submitted that he and Behura were facing similar charges of abetment, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.
Raja’s counsel had submitted that as his client was no longer a Union cabinet minister, he could not tamper with the evidence or influence the witnesses.
Besides Raja, his private secretary R K Chandolia, Behura, DMK MP Kanimozhi, corporate honchos — Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group’s MD Gautam Doshi, ADAG group President Surendra Pipara and Senior Vice President Hari Nair, Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra and Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka–are facing trial in the case.
The court has also put on trial Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar, Director of Cineyug Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd Karim Morani and Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal.
Besides these 14 persons, three telecom firms – Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd, are also facing trial in the case.
Raja and others have been charged for the offence of cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy and corruption besides criminal breach of trust that entails a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.