Inform what transpired at trial court on October 24, Bench tells Additional Solicitor-General
The Supreme Court on Monday questioned the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for not opposing bail in respect of certain accused (Ms. Kanimozhi and four others) while opposing it in some cases in the 2G case before the trial court on October 24.
A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and H.L. Dattu, hearing bail applications of five corporate executives, referred to the submissions of senior counsel Ram Jethmalani about a statement made on behalf of the CBI in the trial court that it was not opposing bail in respect of Ms. Kanimozhi and four others and asked Additional Solicitor-General Harin Raval to inform by Tuesday as to what transpired in the trial court on October 24.
The five accused who had sought bail in the Supreme Court are Unitech Wireless' Managing Director Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom's Director Vinod Goenka and Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group's executives Hari Nair, Gautam Doshi and Surendra Pipara.
Justice Singhvi told Mr. Raval: “If the investigative agency was sure that evidence will not be tampered with by these [five] accused, then why were the accused still being kept in jail. When you are sure they will not tamper with evidence why keep them behind bars?”
Justie Dattu asked the ASG: “If that is so then what happens to the economic fabric chain which you have projected to the court.”
Justice Singhvi asked Mr. Raval to take instructions and inform the court by Tuesday whether it was a fact that the CBI made a statement before the trial court on October 24 that it was not opposing the bail for five accused.
During the course of hearing of these bail applications, Mr. Raval had informed the court that the CBI would oppose the bail applications of all accused in the trial court. However, on October 24, the CBI did not oppose the bail plea of Ms. Kanimozhi and four others (Kalaignar TV managing director Sharad Kumar; Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables; and film producer Karim Morani) and this was pointed out to the Bench by Mr. Jethmalani. This prompted the Bench to seek further clarification from the CBI in this regard as to what transpired in the trial court.
Mr. Jethmalani, appearing for Sanjay Chandra submitted that the CBI had not made out a prima facie case against his client. He said the charge of single or joint conspiracy against all the 17 accused was meaningless. Pointing out how the CBI was taking different stands against different accused, he said the accused were entitled to be released on bail whether the offence for which they were punishable was five years or seven years. He said the CBI should treat all the accused equally and could not take different stands. Whether on merits or otherwise on the principles of bail as laid down by the Supreme Court, his client was entitled to bail, Mr. Jethmalani said.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Mr. Vinod Goenka, drew the attention of the Bench to the 456-page order passed by the trial court for framing of charges as if he was passing order after recording of evidence. He said that on page 363 of the order, the trial judge had clearly stated that the loss due to the 2G scam had not been determined; it would have been better if this had been done.
Counsel wondered if there was no loss what was the case for. The entire jurisprudence on bail had been turned upside down by the trial court in this case, counsel said. .
Senior counsel Ashok Desai and Soli Sorabjee, who appeared for the other three accused, said they were entitled to be released on bail based on the well-laid-down principles. With Mr. Raval opposing bail to all the three accused, the Bench listed the case for further arguments on Tuesday.