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CBI custody of A. Raja, Balwa extended

Jiby Kattakayam
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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday got custody of the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, for four more days along with Swan Telecom director Shahid Balwa, who was produced in a court here for the first time since his arrest in Mumbai on Tuesday.

The CBI submitted before the court that it had not succeeded so far in getting Mr. Raja to disclose new facts which could prove an alleged criminal conspiracy, abuse of official power and reveal the money trail, despite having him in custody for seven days. The remand application also stated that Mr. Raja had “answered evasively” and that during the questioning of Mr. Balwa, “proper answers were not given and he was found hiding true facts.”

The investigating agency told Special Judge (CBI) O.P. Saini, that a transaction of nearly Rs.214 crore had been made to Kalaignar TV Pvt. Ltd. by Cineyug Films Pvt. Ltd. in 2009. Kalaignar TV was owned, said the CBI, by Sharad Kumar and others who were close associates of Mr. Raja, and Cineyug Films arranged the funds from the D.B. Group of Companies, in which the family members of Mr. Balwa were directors/shareholders.

Mr. Raja's counsel, senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, said the CBI had failed to disclose any new and good reason for extending the police remand of the former Minister despite prolonged custody. He also took note, of the remand application, that no incriminating material had been recovered nor any statement disclosed by Mr. Raja through his custodial interrogation.

Mr. Balwa's lawyer Vijay Aggarwal argued before the court that the transaction between Cineyug and Kalaignar TV was for a business deal which fell through, and the money was returned. He stated that Mr. Balwa's arrest was “illegal” as he had cooperated with the CBI investigation and had even appeared before the agency in person several times and submitted documents that were demanded of him.

However, Senior Public Prosecutor Akhilesh, appearing for the CBI, said Mr. Balwa was arrested only after he failed to appear before the agency despite three notices having been served on him was the need felt for his custodial interrogation.

Mr. Aggarwal's plea, that his client was being targeted unfairly as other Unified Access Services licencees were yet to be arrested, was rejected by the judge, who said it was the prerogative of the investigating agency as to when to make an arrest.

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