"When trial is nearing end, why summon additional witnesses?"

The Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday a special leave petition filed by Reliance Telecom challenging a special court order summoning Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group chairman Anil Ambani and his wife Tina as witnesses in the 2G spectrum case.

Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices J. Chelameswar and Vikramajit Sen directed that the matter be listed before an appropriate Bench after senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi pleaded for early hearing.

In its SLP, Reliance Telecom said the trial had been going on for the past 20 months and the CBI had already examined 133 witnesses. At a stage when the trial was nearing completion and prosecution evidence was at the fag end, the CBI sought to cause prejudice to the rights of the accused by calling for additional witnesses without any just cause.

‘No explanation for delay’

The investigating agency’s “mala fide” application “contains no explanation for the inordinate delay.” The witnesses “now sought to be projected as ‘essential for a just decision of the case’ were all within the knowledge of the CBI and were consciously not cited as witnesses at the time of the charge sheet or anytime thereafter.”

The CBI “cannot be allowed to bring on record fresh witnesses in a futile attempt to cover up the gaps in the prosecution’s case or in any manner change the projected case in midstream. The application is a flagrant and colourable attempt to conduct further investigation by abusing the process of the court by calling additional witnesses purportedly to prove documents already on record of the court, which have already been spoken to by the prosecution witnesses who have come and deposed.”

The CBI’s application “is a further extension of the unending fishing and roving expedition conducted by the prosecution.”