Bench notes that they had served 2 years and 8 months

B. Ramalinga Raju, founder-chairman of the erstwhile Satyam Computers Services Ltd.; his brother, B. Rama Raju; and the former Chief Financial Officer of the company, Vadlamani Srinivas, were granted bail on Friday by the Supreme Court.

After hearing senior counsel Ashok Desai and Mukul Rohatgi for the petitioners, a Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak Misra granted bail to them, taking note of the fact that they were in jail for 2 years and 8 months. The Bench made it clear that bail was granted on the facts of the case. It said that considering the totality of the circumstances, it was appropriate to grant them bail.

The Bench also took into consideration the fact that the maximum punishment for the offence was seven years imprisonment and that they had fully cooperated with the trial after their bail was cancelled in October 2010.

The Bench gave liberty to the CBI to move the court for cancellation of bail if the petitioners abused their liberty or tried to influence the trial either directly or indirectly. It directed them to surrender their passports, if not already surrendered, and not to tamper with evidence and to give a personal bond for Rs. 2 lakh with two sureties each for a like sum.

Earlier, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Harin Raval opposed their release on bail, stating that they would influence the witnesses. He said once out of jail they would tamper with the evidence and delay trial. He said though the Supreme Court had granted bail to four co-accused in the accounting fraud case on October 12, the present petitioners should not be released on bail considering their enormous influence. He recalled how they had prior knowledge about the impending financial disaster for Satyam Computers and secured themselves from its impact while allowing it to ruin small investors, as the blue chip company's shares crashed in January 2009.

Justice Bhandari, however, told the ASG that objective of the cancellation of the bail in October last was achieved. He pointed out that 226 prosecution witnesses were examined in such a short period of eight to nine months and it would not be appropriate to detain them further, particularly when they had served two years and eight months. The Bench thereafter directed their release on bail.