Accused oppose, saying court would be comparatively inaccessible, thus hamper their defence
In a move that caught everyone involved in the 2G spectrum case by surprise, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday ordered the shifting of the proceedings to the Tihar Jail court complex.
The accused and their lawyers vehemently raised objections, telling Special Judge O.P. Saini that they wanted to petition the High Court on Wednesday seeking cancellation of its notification, following which Mr. Saini postponed relocation of trial to Thursday.
The notification stated: “In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 9(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the Acting Chief Justice and Judges of this Court [Delhi High Court] have been pleased to order that the trial of the 2G spectrum cases shall be held in Tihar Court Complex, New Delhi, according to law.”
While lawyers have been complaining about the small size of the courtroom at the Patiala House Court Complex, the accused were apprehensive that Tihar, located in West Delhi, will be comparatively inaccessible and thus hamper their defence. Justice Saini had also pressed for a larger courtroom.
Objecting to the shifting of proceedings, lawyers for the accused said while the notification was well within the Delhi High Court's powers, Section 9(6) of the Cr.PC also ordained that the decision be taken in the interest of convenience of the parties and witnesses, and with the consent of the prosecution and the accused.
Section 9(6) states: “The Court of Sessions shall ordinarily hold its sitting at such place or places as the High Court may, by notification, specify; but, if, in any particular case, the Court of Session is of opinion that it will tend to the general convenience of the parties and witnesses to hold its sittings at any other place in the sessions division, it may, with the consent of the prosecution and the accused, sit at that place for the disposal of the case or the examination of any witness or witnesses therein.”
Though he did not oppose the shifting of trial to Tihar, the public prosecutor said there could be a problem as some witnesses were summoned to the Patiala House Court.
“It would have been better and desirable had the Honourable High Court taken into confidence the lawyers representing the accused and the prosecution before deciding to abruptly shift the trial,” said Majid Memon, counsel for Shahid Balwa, an accused.
Distance, a problem
Hariharan, counsel for three Reliance ADA Group executives, said lawyers representing the accused were already finding it difficult to get adjournments from other courts where they had cases pending due to their involvement in the 2G trial. “Often matters crop up urgently in other cases, and it will be impossible for us to reach the High Court or the Supreme Court from Tihar on time. Patiala House is just five minutes away.”
Tihar Central Jail Law Officer Sunil Gupta said the jail headquarters had a court complex comprising two courtrooms. Two other high-profile trials — the Indira Gandhi assassination case and the Baba Gurbachan Singh (Sant Nirankari Mission head) assassination case — were earlier held in this jail. But advocates in the 2G case say in those two trials, security concerns were raised by the parties involved.
Raja, Kanimozhi oppose
The accused politicians, A. Raja and Kanimozhi, voiced their opposition to the High Court notification, saying it would be impossible for them to summon senior counsel at short notice for legal consultation in view of the distance.