The prosecution in the 2G spectrum case did not oppose bail for the DMK's Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi and four others on Monday, two days after the Special CBI Court framed charges against the 17 accused and ordered trial.
However, Special Public Prosecutor U. U. Lalit opposed the bail applications of R. K. Chandolia, private secretary to the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa.
Till date, Mr. Raja has not moved his bail application. The former Telecom Secretary, Siddartha Behura's bail application is listed for hearing on November 1.
Others whose bail applications were not opposed are: Kalaignar TV director Sharad Kumar, film producer Karim Morani and Kusegaon Realty promoters Rajeev Aggarwal and Asif Balwa — all of whom, Mr. Lalit said, figured only in the supplementary charge sheet filed by the CBI. Orders on the bail applications were reserved for November 3.
Mr. Lalit began his submissions categorising the seven bail applications pending before the court — those who were specifically charged for offences punishable with imprisonment up to five years and the others for offences punishable with imprisonment up to seven years.
This meant that Mr. Shahid Balwa, who has been charged, under Section 420 (cheating), and Mr. Chandolia, charged under Section 13(2) (criminal misconduct by public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, fell in the latter category.
However, in a reprieve to Ms. Kanimozhi and others, the prosecutor said the “umbrella charge” of criminal conspiracy to commit breach of trust, cheating, forgery, use of forged documents, payment/receipt of illegal gratification or a valuable thing for a consideration known to be inadequate, and criminal misconduct, against all the accused need not be considered during bail, and only the specific charges against those in the former category need to be looked into.
Mr. Lalit said: “Let us put Shahid Balwa and Chandolia in a different category at this stage... I submit, one can make distinction so far as those for whom the maximum punishment can be five years and those for whom the maximum punishment can be seven years. At this juncture, I am opposing the bail pleas of Chandolia and Shahid Balwa.” The prosecutor recommended bail for the other five accused and left it to the discretion of the court to impose conditions to ensure their presence during hearings.
Arguing for Ms. Kanimozhi's bail, senior advocate Altaf Ahmad pointed out that the CBI had not submitted that the accused could tamper with evidence or influence witnesses. Counsel sought bail also on grounds of her being a woman and mother.
Senior advocate Sidhartha Luthra, appearing for Mr. Morani, argued for bail, primarily on medical grounds. He said Mr. Morani was not involved in any manner in the spectrum allocation.
Mr. Morani, Mr. Chandolia and Mr. Rajeev Aggarwal, in their submissions, said they had daughters of marriageable age, and this necessitated their release from jail.
Vijay Aggarwal, counsel for the Balwas and Mr. Aggarwal, said the ground of “magnitude of crime” that the court had cited to dismiss their earlier bail applications did stand now.
“Prosecution will not speak in court about the magnitude of crime as your [Special Judge O. P. Saini] order on charges says ‘loss' does not matter,” counsel claimed.
Mr. Saini expressed his displeasure against the high-profile accused for making a hue and cry over his decision to record in advance that they were not pleading guilty and were facing the trial.
“What was wrong if I recorded your guilt in advance,” was how Mr. Saini reacted to the reports quoting defence counsel questioning him for coming out with a prepared text while ordering the framing of charges.
He expressed anguish that despite arguing in length against the framing of charges, defence counsel told the media that he (the judge) committed a mistake by writing on his own in the order that the accused “plead not guilty and claim trial.”