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2G case trial starts despite Raja no to cross-examination

New Delhi: Former telecom minister A. Raja, co-accused in the second generation (2G) spectrum case, Friday refused to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses till the probe was complete, but the judge turned down the plea and proceeded with the hearing.

“We are beginning the trial whether you cross-examine the witnesses or not,” Special Judge O.P. Saini, who is presiding over the special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), said and dismissed Raja’s plea.

The comments by the judge came soon after Raja’s counsel Sushil Kumar said witnesses would not be cross-examined till such time the probe was complete and all statements as mandated under Section 244 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) were supplied.

“The date for examination of witnesses has been fixed without complying with the mandate provision of CrPC. The applicant has no option but to defer the cross examination,” Kumar added.

Following this, former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, who is also among the 17 co-accused, including three companies, also refused to participate, saying: “I do not want to cross examine the witnesses.”

The judge, however, declined their pleas and said trial would proceed. He also ordered the recording of the statement of the first prosecution witness — Anand Subramaniam of Reliance Capital.

The court had summoned two other witnesses for examination Friday — A.N. Sethuraman of Reliance Group and Vinod Kumar Budhiraja of Etisalat DB Telecom. They are among the 28 witnesses whom the CBI wants to examine in the first instance.

The probe agency had filed the first set of charges April 2 in which it had named as accused Raja, his former personal secretary R.K. Chandolia, Behura, Swan Telecom’s Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Wireless’ Sanjay Chandra.

It had also named as accused Reliance Group managing director Gautam Doshi, group president Surendra Pipara and senior vice president Hari Nayar, besides three companies – Unitech Wireless, Swan Telecom and Reliance Telecom.

The supplementary charges April 25 then included Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi, Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar, Cineyug Film`s Karim Morani, and the directors of Kusegaon, Asif Balwa and Rajeev B. Agarwal.

All the accused are in judicial custody and lodged in Tihar Jail here.

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