After nine days of intensive cross-examination by all the accused in the 2G spectrum case in a CBI special court here, Aseervatham Achary, one of the crucial prosecution witnesses of the Central Bureau of Investigation, has been discharged.
The witness, who was an aide of the former Telecom Minister A. Raja, referred to two incidents in August and September 2009 when unknown persons visited his present and former residence, enquiring about him. Following the second incident, he said, he called CBI investigating officer Vivek Priyadarshi to inform him of it.
“On September 2, 2011, I got a call from the manager of an apartment where I lived earlier and he told me that a CBI officer had come to that apartment, met him, and enquired about me and that the alleged CBI officer told him that I had applied for voluntary retirement and that the CBI was conducting an inquiry whether to grant permission. But I had not applied for voluntary retirement and even if I had applied, why should a CBI officer conduct an inquiry, to give clearance to the Railway Board?” Mr. Achary said. He felt that the “accused persons were trying to intimidate me so that I do not come to the court to tell anything. The same day…I called Vivek Priyadarshi and he told me to come the next working day.”
When Mr. Achary said he could not recollect the two persons who defence suggested might be known to him, an irked counsel for Asif Balwa asked: “Have you taken any drugs which might have affected your memory?”
When Special Judge O. P. Saini disallowed this question, counsel kept probing again: “Is this lapse of memory chronic or temporary or recently acquired?”
At this point, Mr. Saini warned: “If such questions are put any further, the questions shall be disallowed with heavy cost.” Despite repeated questioning and suggestions by Majid Memon, counsel for Vinod Goenka; and Sushil Kumar, counsel for Mr. Raja, that the witness was pressured by the CBI to give false evidence, Mr. Achary stood his ground and denied any coercion by the agency.