Courtesy : The Hindu
Setting the stage for the trial in the 2G spectrum scam case to begin on November 11, a special CBI court here on Saturday framed charges against allthe 17 accused, including the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, DMK Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi, and real estate magnates Shahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka and Sanjay Chandra, besides three senior executives of the RelianceADA Group.
All the accused, who include three telecom companies that were represented by authorised persons, pleaded not guilty and sought trial. “I hereby direct that you all be tried by the court for the aforesaid charges,” wrote Special Judge O.P. Saini, concluding his 700-page order on charges.
Among the charges, Section 409 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code is the severest, carrying a maximum punishment of life imprisonment, or a jail term extendingup to 10 years.
Detailing the prima facie evidence against the accused from August/September 2007 to August /September 2009 that culminated in payment of Rs. 200 crore by Dynamix Realty to Kalaignar TV in several tranches from December 2008, Mr. Saini said: “ … you all committed an offence punishable under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy) read with 409 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of the IPC and Section 7 or in the alternative Section 11 read with (r/w) Section 12 and 13(2) r/w 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.”
On Mr. Raja and the former Telecom Secretary, Siddhartha Behura's role in disposing of spectrum, Mr. Saini said: “You, accused A. Raja and Siddhartha Behura, dishonestly, in pursuance to the conspiracy, disposed of/allocated valuable spectrum over which you were having dominion, which was entrusted to you in the capacity of being public servants, to Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu), in violation of law with a view to causing wrongful gain to these companies and thereby you committed an offence punishable under Section 409 r/w 120-B IPC.”
The judge also ordered that Mr. Raja and Mr. Behura were triable for cheating the Telecom Department intoissuing UAS licences and spectrum by using the “forged note” of Mr. Raja in which he allegedly made amendments following the then Solicitor-General's approval of the note. “And thereby you committed an offence punishable under Section 420 read with 120-B.” For the same allegation of forging the note, Mr. Raja would also be tried under Sections 420, 468, and 471, read with 120B of the IPC.
Raja, Chandolia, Behura, charged with abuse of official position
For receiving a bribe of Rs. 200 crore —which was collected by Kalaignar TV —from Swan Telecom in considerationof grant of UAS licences and spectrum, the former Telecom Minister, A.. Raja, would be tried for an offence punishable under Section 7 (public servant taking bribe) or the alternative Section 11 of the Prevention of Corruption Act read with 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, special CBI court judge O.P. Saini said on Saturday.
Kalaignar TV is co-owned by fellow accused Sharad Kumar and DMK MP Kanimozhi
Mr. Raja, his former private secretary R.K. Chandolia, and the former TelecomSecretary Siddhartha Behura were alsocharged with abusing their official position as public servants for grantingUAS licences and allocating spectrum to Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless,resulting in the two companies obtaining pecuniary benefits to the tune of Rs.7,105 crore by offloading shares. For this, the three men would be tried under Section 13(2), read with13(1)(d) of the PC Act, read with 120B of the IPC.
Real estate magnates Shahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka and Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless were charged under Section 420, read with 120B of the IPC, for cheating the Telecom Department into issuing themUAS licences and allocating spectrum. This despite their knowing that their companies were ineligible for licences on the date of application.
Reliance ADA Group's top officials Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipaa would be tried for passing on Swan Telecom to Mr. Shahid Balwa andMr. Goenka, knowing that it was ineligible for UAS licences on the date of application, thereby abetting in the offence. They were charged for offences punishable under Section 109 (abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence)/Section 420 read with 120B of the IPC.
For the transaction of Rs.200 crore from Dynamix Realty to Kalaignar TV, Mr. Shahid Balwa, Mr. Goenka, Swan Telecom, Asif Balwa, Rajeev Aggarwal, Karim Morani, Mr. Sharad Kumar and Ms. Kanimozhi would be tried under various sections of the PC Act for “abetting in the receipt of illegal gratification or in the alternative, a loan for consideration which was known to be inadequate.”
Indicting Mr. Balwa, Mr. Goenka, Mr. Aggarwal, Mr. Morani, Mr. Sharad Kumar and Mr. Asif Balwa for creating false documents to show the bribe amount of Rs. 200 crore as a loan, “with a view to using them in any stage of judicial proceeding” as a perfectly legal transaction, Mr. Saini said, “thereby you committed an offence punishable under Section 193 (false evidence) read with 120-B.”
On Ms. Kanimozhi, whose bail application would come up for hearing on Monday, Mr. Saini said: “You Kanimozhi Karunanidhi had also been in regular touch with accused A. Raja regarding launching of Kalaignar TV channels and other pending works of Kalaignar TV and you were also an initial director of the company... and you were also a stakeholder in Kalaignar TV to the tune of 20 per cent equity and was an active brain behind its operations and you were also widely covered by the Kalaignar Seithigal (News) channel.