New Delhi: Five corporate honchos, including Unitech’s Sanjay Chandra and Reliance ADAG’s Gautam Doshi, were today arrested and sent to jail after a Delhi court dismissed their bail plea saying they may tamper with evidence and even flee to avoid prosecution in the ”highest magnitude” 2G spectrum allocation scam.
However, hours after special CBI Judge O P Saini accepted CBI’s plea that they can also influence the witnesses, they challenged the rejection of bail in the Delhi High Court which is likely to hear them tomorrow.
The decision to move the High Court assumes significance as the Supreme Court, which is monitoring the progress of the case, had made it clear that no other court in the country will entertain any application or petition relating to the 2G case other than the apex court.
Besides Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd Managing Director Sanjay Chandra and Group MD of Reliance ADAG Gautam Doshi, the court also rejected the bail plea of co-promoter of Swan Telecom Vinod Goenka and Reliance ADAG’s Surender Pipara and Hari Nair.
“A bare perusal of the facts of the case and the allegations in the chargesheet make it out a case of the highest magnitude and gravity and there is enough incriminating material on record against the accused.”
The court also dealt with the arguments of defence lawyers that they be granted bail “ipso facto” (by default) as they were not arrested during the probe.
“I am satisfied that in a case of this magnitude, non-arrest of the accused by the police (CBI) is of no consequence and bail is to be considered as per the facts and circumstances of the case,” the special judge, appointed exclusively to deal with the 2G case, said.
“In such cases, the non-arrest of the accused by the police/CBI and issuance of the summons by the court for their appearance are not of much consequence,” Special CBI Judge O P Saini, in his 42-page order, said.
The court concurred with CBI’s apprehension that the accused may tamper with the evidence “by trying to win over witnesses and they may also flee from justice in view of the magnitude of the offence.”
“These apprehensions cannot be dismissed as too far-fetched at this stage in the light of the serious nature of the case…, In my considered opinion, it is not a fit case for bail,” it said.
Former Telecom Minister A Raja, former Telcom Secretary Siddharth Behura and Raja’s personal secretary R K Chandolia and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, who are already in jail, were also present during the hearing.
A battery of lawyers, including Mumbai-based Majid Memon, immediately swung into action by moving fresh pleas for interim bail for a period of seven to 15 days for their high-profile clients.
The accused also took the plea that they have to arrange for even the signatories of the cheques to avoid financial problems which their firms may face owing to their sudden arrest.
“We have co-operated with CBI and even appeared before the court after receiving the summons and now we are also ready to appear and remain present during the hearing for next seven days,” one of the defence counsel said.
Senior advocate K T S Tulsi, appearing for Sanjay Chandra of Unitech, said “if it is (denial of bail) deferred by a week, the cause of justice will not suffer.”
“No precedent for provision of law has been brought to my notice which applies directly to the facts and the circumstances of the case for grant of status quo or for interim bail at this stage… accordingly, the applications are without merit and the same are dismissed,” the court said.
Rejection of even the interim bail led the defence counsel to the High Court for urgent mentioning on the issue.
A bench of Justices Vikramajit Sen and Siddharth Mridul later decided to take up their appeal tomorrow against the rejection of bail.
The special court, in its order, however did not discuss the facts and statements of the witnesses.
“There are statements of witnesses on record in this regard, which I do not wish to discuss in detail at this stage,” the court said.
“Moreover, in cases of this magnitude, involving deep- rooted planning in which huge financial loss was caused to the state exchequer, the gravity and the magnitude of the offence is required to be considered,” it said.
The court dismissed the bail plea of ailing Reliance ADAG official Surendra Pipara despite the fact that special prosecutor U U Lalit did not oppose it.
“His condition is not stated to be as bad as to deserve any special consideration at this stage,” it said.