KTS Tulsi cannot save Sanjay Chandra Special CBI Judge OP Saini sends corporate honchos to jail in the 2G scam
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KTS Tulsi cannot save Sanjay Chandra Special CBI Judge OP Saini sends corporate honchos to jail in the 2G scam

Bar & Bench

Judge OP Saini has sent 5 telecom honcos to jail in the 2G-spectrum scam. Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra, DB Realty MD Vinod Goenka and Reliance Telecom employees Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair have been sent to judicial custody as the court rejected an interim bail application. The corporate honchos will now spend time in Delhi’s Tihar jail.

Judge OP Saini has sent 5 telecom honcos to jail in the 2G-spectrum scam. Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra, DB Realty MD Vinod Goenka and Reliance Telecom employees Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair have been sent to judicial custody as the court rejected an interim bail application. The corporate honchos will now spend time in Delhi’s Tihar jail.

Judge OP Saini even rejected ailing Surendra Pipara’s bail application even though Special Public Prosecutor U.U. Lalit had not opposed his application. Senior Advocates KTS Tulsi defended Chandra, Mukul Rohatgi defended Goenka and Ranjit Kumar defended the Reliance executives.

Economic Times and NDTV detail the list of events that took place in Patiala House today.

Charge Sheet:

Chandra has been charged for cheating and conspiracy. The CBI believes that he came up with a plan, which centered on Raja abruptly advancing the deadlines for applications for licenses by a week. Companies like Unitech allegedly benefited from this and jumped to the head of the queue.

The three senior executives from Anil Ambani’s ADAG have been accused of setting up Swan as a front to acquire more spectrum and licenses for Reliance Telecommunications. Gautam Doshi, who is the Managing Director of ADAG, and the two other executives have been charged by the CBI with trying to conceal Reliance’s stake in Swan.

The CBI has alleged that funding for Swan was organised overnight so that it could serve as a secret extension of Reliance. According to the rules, no operator could own more than 10% in another company providing telecom services in the same area. Doshi, Surrendra Pipara and Hari Nair used Swan to get around that rule, the CBI has alleged.

Court Proceedings:

 

Proceedings began as Saini assumed the judge’s seat and went about identifying the accused and their attorneys from among the bustling crowd before him. “I want to see the faces of the accused. Are they here,” the judge asked. As names were called out, arms were raised, and four anxious faces made their way through the packed courtroom towards the judge’s seat. Unitech’s Chandra wasn’t present when the trial began. Neither was special public prosecutor UU Lalit, who apologised to the court as soon as he arrived.

 

As the court waited for some formalities of the trial to be completed, defence lawyers tried to appear confident, like sports teams ahead of a key match. “Milord, all that we are only worried about is the bail amount, nothing else,” one lawyer said. Saini continued reading, ignoring the remark, but the hint of a smile appeared on his face.

Matters assumed seriousness as public prosecutor Lalit arrived and arguments began. In his opening remarks, the special public prosecutor placed the onus on the defendants to justify their bail application.

 

Rohatgi went all guns blazing from the word go, while Tulsi started gently in an aggrieved tone and build up into a crescendo of persuasion. Lalit, who towered above all his “learned friends” with his imposing frame, adopted a style that interlaced cold legal nuance with passionate delivery.

The defence based their argument on the fact that since all those who have been summoned have co-operated with the investigating agencies so far, it was deemed unnecessary to arrest them during the investigation, and they are all present in person even though they had the option of appearing through a lawyer.

“There is no question of them absconding, they have appeared before the investigating agency more than a dozen times, they are businessmen with huge businesses and addresses, and they are all here today and they have extended full co-operation to the investigators,” Rohatgi said. He argued that it was incumbent on the prosecution to justify arrest, and not on the defendants to justify bail. “That is the process of the law. The prosecution is making the law to stand on its head,” he said.

While the defense lawyers argued their case, UU Lalit was heard congratulating CBI investigating officer Vivek Priyadarshini on the quality of the chargesheet. “Great job, very thorough chargesheet,” Lalit told the young IPS officer who stood next to him through the hearing.

Tulsi, appearing for Unitech’s Chandra, said there was no justification for an arrest because the investigating agencies have found no new evidence and if for one and a half years if custodial interrogation has not been required, it’s unfathomable why it should be necessary now, he argued. “The circumstances of the case have not changed. A public prosecutor has been appointed, but that is not relevant to the question of arrest,” Tulsi said.

Lalit argued that the status of the defendants changed with the filing of the chargesheet, from suspects to accused. And they were not required for custodial interrogation when they were suspects, but that should have no bearing on the decision to disallow bail, he argued. “The court must be satisfied that the person is entitled to be released on bail,” Lalit said.

The heat in the packed courtroom perturbed both the defence and the prosecution and justice Saini faced a sea of perspiring foreheads. He looked on, dispassionately listening to both sides.

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