CBI Special Judge O.P. Saini, presiding over the 2G spectrum scam trial, on Thursday granted bail to R. K. Chandolia, who was private secretary of the former Telecom Minister A. Raja, despite the CBI's opposition on the ground that there was no parity between him and the other accused who were already granted bail.
The judge made a distinction between the powers enjoyed by the suspended Indian Economic Service officer, former Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura, and Mr. Raja, stating Mr. Chandolia's case could not be “equated with” these two co-accused, who are now the only persons left in judicial custody in the case.
“There are no allegations that the applicant/accused himself accepted any bribe. Charges have already been framed and the evidence of the prosecution is being recorded. Moreover, charges have been framed against the accused only for conspiracy and criminal misconduct.” Chandolia was only private secretary to the then Minister and did not any independent powers of his own. “A. Raja was the political head of the Department of Telecommunications, whereas Siddhartha Behura was its administrative head. As such, with due respect, his [Chandolia's] case cannot be equated with these two accused,” Mr. Saini wrote in his order.
“Considering the period of custody he has already undergone, the stage of the case — recording of prosecution evidence — and the fact that five of the co-accused have already been released on bail by the Supreme Court, five by the Delhi High Court and one by this court, I am of the humble opinion that further incarceration of the accused would not serve any purpose.”
The court accepted Mr. Chandolia's plea that he was not in a position to furnish bail bonds for Rs. 5 lakh and two sureties for a like amount (in all Rs.15 lakh), and ordered him to give a personal bond for Rs.3 lakh, with two sureties for a like sum.