The Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to examine whether the charges against A. Raja, former Telecom Minister; Kanimozhi, MP and daughter of the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, and others could be quashed even as trial against them in the 2G cases is at an advanced stage.

A Bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and K.S. Radhakrishnan issued notice to the CBI, the Union of India, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the Enforcement Directorate and the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, main petitioner in the case, to respond to the writ petitions challenging the framing of charges by the trial court.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa, said though the Delhi High Court had issued notice to the CBI on a petition against framing of charges and a reply was filed, the agency later moved the apex court and got the proceedings stayed. Later, the Supreme Court held that it alone had the power to entertain any petition for quashing of charges.

Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, Ashok Desai and Shekar Naphade, appearing for the other accused, supported Mr. Rohatgi’s contention and said their right to seek quashing of charges could not be taken away.

When Justice Radhakrishnan pointed out that the trial was at an advanced stage, counsel said there was no delay on the part of the accused as it was the CBI which got the proceedings stayed. Mr. Rohatgi said he would demonstrate that there was no criminality involved in the case and that the charges could be quashed.

Though senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the CBI initially opposed the writ petitions stating examination of prosecution witnesses was almost completed, he later said the agency would file a comprehensive counter- affidavit. Counsel Prashant Bhushan appeared for the CPIL. The Bench posted the matter for further hearing after six weeks.

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