Charge sheet against Raja by March 31: CBI

Former Telecom Minister A. Raja is taken away after being produced at Patiala House court in New Delhi. File photo  

With the Centre ready to set up a special court for trial of the 2G scam case, the Central Bureau of Investigation informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it would file a charge sheet against the former Communications Minister, A. Raja; two companies and some others by March 31.

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, made this commitment before a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly, while presenting the agency's status report on the progress of the probe.

Attorney-General (AG) G.E. Vahanvati said the Centre would come out with two notifications — one under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the other under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act — for establishment of a special court. It would be set up by March 29 to enable the CBI to file the charge sheet by March 31.

The AG brought to the court's notice a news report that he was grilled by the CBI in the 2G scam. Denying the report as baseless, Mr. Vahanvati said the CBI Director came to him with a forensic report to show how his opinion (when he was Solicitor-General) was forged by Mr. Raja.

Informed sources said there was a mention by the CBI in its status report on how Mr. Raja had forged Mr. Vahanvati's opinion in the Department of Telecom's press note prior to its issuance in January 2008. According to the report, after Mr. Vahanvati approved the press note, Mr. Raja added the word ‘amended' and struck out a paragraph in the approved press note saying “[last para] ... is not necessary as it is a new stipulation.”

The struck out paragraph says: “However, if more than one applicant complies with the LOI [Letter of Intent] condition on the same date, the inter-se seniority would be decided by the date of application.”

The CBI found out the forgery with the help of forensic experts and with the latest electron microscope — the ink used for striking out the paragraph and adding the word ‘amended' written by Mr. Raja was the same.

Mr. Venugopal told the court that many new facts had emerged during the investigation. Many people, including the CEO of a telecom company, were examined and Letters Rogatory sent to various countries for tracking the money trail. In respect of Mauritius, some progress had been made. The CBI was also probing a land deal in Chennai involving the Tatas and the DMK and the progress on the probe was mentioned in the status report, Mr. Venugopal said.

The CBI counsel said that initially the main charge sheet would be filed against Mr. Raja and others. This would be the beginning. Supplementary charge sheets would be filed later against the beneficiaries of the scam. In respect of Mr. Raja and others, besides charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act, charges for conspiracy, cheating and forgery under the Indian Penal Code would be filed.

Justice Singhvi told Mr. Venugopal that the CBI should appoint the best person public prosecutor to conduct the trial in the special court. Counsel said he would take instructions and a suitable person would be appointed.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 2:28:03 PM |

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