New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Monday granted bail to DMK MP Kanimozhi and four others jailed for over six months in the spectrum saga, triggering celebrations by her family in Tamil Nadu.
But the daughter of DMK chief M. Karunanidhi will spend another night in Tihar Jail as her release orders did not reach the prison in time.
An elated Karunanidhi immediately telephoned his daughter from Chennai while party activists and leaders distributed sweets to mark an event they had been expecting for months. In the Delhi court, overjoyed DMK leaders rushed to share the news with others.
In significant comments, the court said the Rajya Sabha member should have been given bail earlier because Kanimozhi was a woman. Judge V.K. Shali said he was acting on the strength of a Supreme Court ruling granting bail to five corporative executives linked to the scam Nov 23.
Kanimozhi, 43, was sent to prison May 20, coincidentally soon after her DMK was voted out in Tamil Nadu, dealing a major blow to an already dispirited Karunanidhi. It followed the earlier jailing of DMK leader and disgraced former telecommunication minister A. Raja, who is at the heart of the 2G spectrum scandal.
Law Minister Salman Khurshid said Monday’s development would have no impact on long-standing Congress-DMK ties.
Besides Kanimozhi, bail was granted to Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar, Cineyug Films’ Karim Morani, and Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd directors Asif Balwa and Rajeev B. Agarwal.
However, the court reserved order on the bail plea of former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura.
Allowing bail to Kanimozhi and the others, Justice Shali said: “Most of the evidence against the petitioners is documentary evidence, and there is no prima facie evidence or likelihood which may persuade the court to doubt that the petitioners have reason to believe that they may create conditions which may not be conducive to hold free and fair trial.”
The judge said all five bail “applications are allowed keeping in mind the Supreme Court verdict” giving bail to five corporate executives. “There is no chance of their fleeing from the process of law.”
The five were asked to furnish a personal bond of Rs.5 lakh each with two sureties. It directed them to surrender their passports and said they must appear whenever they were called to the court.
The court expressed its displeasure because the Special Court had not granted bail to Kanimozhi on additional grounds of being a woman.
“So far as the Kanimozhi is concerned, she is entitled to invocation of additional grounds of being a woman,”. The order said a woman or infirm or a child less than 16 years of age is entitled to bail.
This was the fifth attempt by Kanimozhi to get bail.
As the ruling came, DMK leader T.R. Baalu and relatives of the other accused jumped in excitement and sprinted out of the court.
Baalu then rushed to the nearby Patiala House Court, where the daily hearing is on, to break the news to Kanimozhi. A beaming Kanimozhi and her husband chatted away with friends.
In Chennai, Karunanidhi said: “The news gives me happiness.” Asked what would be his first words to his daughter, he said: “At last, you have come!”
Party leaders said the bail would act as a morale booster to take on the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu.
On May 20, Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar were named co-accused and sent to jail. Ten days later Morani joined them. Balwa and Agarwal had been jailed March 29.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) earlier opposed Behura’s bail, saying that he, along with Raja and Raja’s former private secretary R.K. Chandolia, was involved in the conspiracy in granting telecom licences.
Raja has still not applied for bail since his arrest Feb 2.
Behura, Kanimozhi and four others moved the court Nov 23 for early hearing of their bail applications after the apex court granted bail to five corporate executives and co-accused — Sanjay Chandra of Unitech Wireless, Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom and Reliance Group’s Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair.
Now, only four of the 14 arrested by CBI remain in jail. These are Raja, Behura, Chandolia and Swan Telecom’s Shahid Usman Balwa.
Chandolia and Balwa’s bail application would be taken up by CBI Special Court Judge O.P. Saini Wednesday.
Raja resigned as minister Nov 14 last year after the Comptroller and Auditor General reported that the faulty auction process in the allocation of second-generation telephony led to a notional loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore.