After spending nearly 15 months in the Tihar Central Jail here, the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, facing trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case, was granted bail by a special CBI court on Tuesday.
Mr. Raja was arrested by the CBI on February 2, 2011 and he was in its custody till February 17. After that he has been in judicial custody.
Mr. Raja, who is the main accused in the case, is the last of the 12 accused to get bail. This was the first time since his arrest that he moved a bail application.
Rejecting the apprehension of the prosecution that he might influence witnesses or tamper with evidence, Special CBI Judge O.P. Saini said: “Almost the entire evidence in the case is documentary in nature and the same is in the custody of the court. In the end, considering the progress of the trial, the period of custody of the accused and the fact that all the other accused have been released on bail, I am of the opinion that further detention of the accused would not serve any purpose.”
The court granted bail on Mr. Raja furnishing a personal bond of Rs.20 lakh with two sureties for a like amount. Among the conditions that Mr. Saini imposed on him were that he should not visit Tamil Nadu or the Telecom Department without the court's permission.
The court also forbade him from “directly or indirectly making any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts as may be necessary to the court or to any other authority.”
Expressing satisfaction with the progress of the trial, the judge, in his order, also took a dig at the delaying tactics of some of the accused. “Prosecution evidence is being recorded and till date 42 witnesses, [with evidence] running into more than 1,600 pages have been recorded. I may note with satisfaction and also with a tinge of regret that a reasonably good amount of work has been done in the case in spite of stiff resistance put up by some of the accused at different stages of the case.”
As soon as Mr. Saini pronounced the order, the cramped courtroom rang with applause and Mr. Raja's supporters and DMK workers surrounded Mr. Raja. He was immediately whisked away to the court lock-up and released from jail late in the evening.
Mr. Raja's wife M.A. Parameswari and most of the co-accused were present when the order was passed. DMK leader T.R. Baalu and co-accused and Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi arrived soon to congratulate him. Party workers celebrated by distributing sweets.