Arguments on the bail applications moved by five accused corporate bigwigs in the 2G spectrum scam ended on Friday, with Special Judge O.P. Saini reserving orders for April 20 after the prosecution said there was a possibility of witnesses being won over.

The judge directed that status quo be maintained until then on the personal liberty of the five persons. They were not arrested while the investigation was in progress. The accused are Unitech managing director Sanjay Chandra, DB Realty managing director Vinod Goenka and Reliance ADA Group's managing director Gautam Doshi, its president Surendra Pipara and senior vice-president Hari Nair.

While senior advocate U.U. Lalit appeared as Special Public Prosecutor for the Central Bureau of Investigation, senior advocates Mukul Rohtagi and K.T.S. Tulsi appeared for Mr. Goenka and Mr. Chandra. The Reliance ADA Group officials were represented by senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, Seema Gulati and Mr. Hariharan.

The arguments continued for more than three hours, with Mr. Lalit focussing on the gravity and magnitude of the offence the accused had committed, while the defence counsel stressed that their clients co-operated with the probe at all stages; had not been arrested yet; the offence was not chargeable for the maximum punishment; and they were willing to comply with all bail conditions.

Case of public interest

Mr. Lalit cited Supreme Court judgments which stressed that the basic consideration while granting bail to an accused after the charge sheet was filed was the nature of offence committed. “Here is a case of the public interest in which the financial health of the country was completely bartered away. Now that the names of witnesses are out, some of the witnesses are working under these persons and report to them. There is a clear possibility of their being won over or threatened. My apprehensions are reasonable.”

Drawing the attention of the judge to the Satyam fraud case, in which Ramalinga Raju's bail was cancelled by the Supreme Court, Mr. Lalit said: “The severity of the case and its magnitude must weigh with the court” while considering bail. Winding up his argument, Mr. Lalit said: “This will not be a protracted trial. It will be an expedited trial. In the fitness of things, going by the case made out against the accused, their complicity in the case, and their roles in their respective companies, it is imperative that their bail applications be dismissed.”

Mr. Rohtagi said it was “amazing” that his client was not arrested during the investigation, but the prosecution wanted his custody after the probe was over. “It will be a complete travesty of justice that they are requiring my client's custody, two years after the case was registered. This is a regular case. There is a lot of hype. Otherwise, the bail was a matter of five minutes.”

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