Setting the stage for the trial in the 2G spectrum scam case to begin on November 11, a special CBI court here on Saturday framed charges against all the 17 accused, including the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, DMK Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi, and real estate magnates Shahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka and Sanjay Chandra, besides three senior executives of the Reliance ADA Group.
All the accused, who include three telecom companies that were represented by authorised persons, pleaded not guilty and sought trial. “I hereby direct that you all be tried by the court for the aforesaid charges,” wrote Special Judge O.P. Saini, concluding his 700-page order on charges.
Among the charges, Section 409 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code is the severest, carrying a maximum punishment of life imprisonment, or a jail term extending up to 10 years.
Detailing the prima facie evidence against the accused from August/September 2007 to August /September 2009 that culminated in payment of Rs. 200 crore by Dynamix Realty to Kalaignar TV in several tranches from December 2008, Mr. Saini said: “ … you all committed an offence punishable under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) read with 409 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of the IPC and Section 7 or in the alternative Section 11 read with (r/w) Section 12 and 13(2) r/w 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.”
On Mr. Raja and the former Telecom Secretary, Siddhartha Behura's role in disposing of spectrum, Mr. Saini said: “You, accused A. Raja and Siddhartha Behura, dishonestly, in pursuance to the conspiracy, disposed of/allocated valuable spectrum over which you were having dominion, which was entrusted to you in the capacity of being public servants, to Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu), in violation of law with a view to causing wrongful gain to these companies and thereby you committed an offence punishable under Section 409 r/w 120-B IPC.”
The judge also ordered that Mr. Raja and Mr. Behura were triable for cheating the Telecom Department into issuing UAS licences and spectrum by using the “forged note” of Mr. Raja in which he allegedly made amendments following the then Solicitor-General's approval of the note. “And thereby you committed an offence punishable under Section 420 read with 120-B.” For the same allegation of forging the note, Mr. Raja would also be tried under Sections 420, 468, and 471, read with 120B of the IPC.