Moves application seeking framing of charges for criminal breach of trust

The CBI on Monday dealt a fresh blow to the 17 accused in the 2G spectrum scam, slapping on them an additional charge of criminal breach of trust — a non-bailable offence punishable with life imprisonment or imprisonment for a term which can extend up to 10 years.

Special Public Prosecutor U.U. Lalit moved the application seeking framing of charges under the Indian Penal Code Section 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) against the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja; the former Telecom Secretary, Siddhartha Behura, and Mr. Raja's former Private Secretary, R. K. Chandolia. Alleging that the 14 other accused were part of the criminal conspiracy in which the three public servants committed the breach of trust, the CBI has indicted them under IPC Section 409 read with 120B (criminal conspiracy). These 14 accused include DMK MP Kanimozhi, big businessmen Shahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka and Sanjay Chandra, besides three telecom companies.

The earlier charges included criminal conspiracy, cheating, and forgery under Sections of the IPC, besides various Sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the maximum punishment attracted being seven years.

The CBI application said the two charge sheets already filed “may be treated as part and parcel of the present application.” It submitted before Special Judge O.P. Saini that the “facts, circumstances, allegations, and evidence on record, make out a charge under Section 409 of the IPC,” in addition to the offences made out against them in the two charge sheets.

Speaking to journalists, counsel for Mr. Raja, Sushil Kumar, said the new charge was a CBI “ploy” to deny him bail.

“It is submitted that accused 1, 2, and 3 [Raja, Behura, and Chandolia] were public servants having a dominion over valuable 2G spectrum in their capacities as public servants,” the CBI said. “The public servants in pursuance of conspiracy with the other accused No. 4 to 17, dishonestly disposed of the valuable 2G spectrum illegally and in violation of the existing policies and the eligibility criterion in order to confer a wrongful gain on accused No. 4 [Shahid Balwa], No. 5 [Vinod Goenka], No. 6 [Swan Telecom], No. 7 [Sanjay Chandra] and No. 8 [Unitech Wireless],” the agency told the court.

“Thus, accused 1, 2, and 3 have committed an offence punishable under Section 409 IPC and accused No. 4 to 17 have committed an offence punishable under Section 409 read with 120B, within the cognisance of this court and hence they should be charged accordingly,” the application said.

Defence will respond to the new charge on September 30.

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