Deposing in a special court hearing the 2G spectrum scam case, A. Raja's former Additional Private Secretary Aseervatham Achary on Monday named DB Realty's Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Wireless promoter Sanjay Chandra, Kalaignar TV co-owner Kanimozhi, and the former corporate lobbyist, Niira Radia, as persons with whom the former Telecom Minister was in touch on various clearances.

Mr. Achary, who served as the former Minister's aide from October 1999 to October 2008, said: “The big construction projects cleared by A. Raja, as Minister for Environment and Forests, included Unitech, DB Realty and other companies… As far as Unitech is concerned, Sanjay Chandra, and as far as DB Realty is concerned, Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka, used to follow up. They used to meet A. Raja and R.K. Chandolia on a regular basis to pursue their cases…”

Mr. Achary said Ms. Kanimozhi and Kalaignar TV director Sharad Kumar were “pursuing the case of Kalaignar TV” and that Ms. Kanimozhi was “regularly in touch with him [Mr. Raja] and meeting him.” The former aide said that in December 2007 there was a major altercation between A. Raja and the former Telecom Secretary, D.S. Mathur, who preceded Siddhartha Behura, and that Mr. Raja had told him [Achary] that “this man [Mathur] is not listening to me and that is why I am shouting.”

The witness testified that he had mostly seen Shahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka, and Sanjay Chandra visit Mr. Raja at his official residence during September, October, November, and December 2007.

On Ms. Radia, Mr. Achary said he had a telephonic conversation with the former lobbyist who wanted to convey to Mr. Raja that she had “arranged for putting Kalaignar TV on the Tata Sky platform.” Mr. Achary added that Ms. Radia “was working for Tatas for getting clearances from the Department of Telecommunications.”

Jethmalani's poser

After his examination-in-chief by the prosecution ended, Mr. Achary was subjected to nearly 10 minutes of cross-examination by Ram Jethmalani, counsel for Ms. Kanimozhi. Before the court adjourned for the day, the cross-examination was tantalisingly poised with Mr. Achary facing a complimentary poser from the veteran lawyer. “Mr. Achary, I have heard you are a fighter against corruption?” Unfazed, the witness replied, “It is correct that I am a fighter against corruption” and would “make every sacrifice to expose corruption.”

Mr. Achary further volunteered that he had decided to leave Mr. Raja's service in 2005 itself and had requested him periodically to relieve him, so that he could return to his parent department. “I did not at any time during my entire tenure of work under A. Raja, starting from the Ministry of Rural Development up to the last, do anything illegal, irregular, criminal or immoral.”

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