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SC to direct day-to-day trial in the 2G case
The apex court said it would pass a formal order on the 2G scam issue on April 11.
New Delhi: Brushing aside Centre's objections, the Supreme Court on Friday said it would pass an order for the appointment of senior advocate UU Lalit as special public prosecutor for holding the trial of former telecom minister A Raja and others in the 2G spectrum case on a day-to-day basis without any adjournments.
Turning down the Centre's plea seeking one week time to come out with an alternate name, a bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly said it will pass a formal order on the appointment of Lalit on April 11.
"We intend to pass an order directing the Government to come out with a notificatiion on the appointment of Lalit as special public prosecutor. He will also have the choice to suggest the names of other prosecutors to assist him in the case," the bench said.
The Centre, however, continued to raise objection and Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Indira Jaising, said that court should also record her statement on government's reservation on the name of Lalit.
"I do not want to be seen as consenting to the Supreme Court order," she said when the bench refused to grant more time as sought by the government which pleaded for adjournment of the case.
Senior advocate KK Venugopal, who has been appearing on behalf of CBI and ED, did not find support from another ASG Haren Rawal, also appearing for the ED, who said "it was not the suggestion of ED" but the personal opinion of Venugopal.
Venugopal, however, insisted on the name of Lalit saying "he is a person of integrity, wholly independent and well versed in criminal law".
The court after hearing the arguments fixed April 11 for passing order as the special court, exclusively set up for holding the trial 2G scam, is to conduct further proceeding on April 13.
"We would make it clear in our order that the Special court would hold trial on day-to-day basis and no adjournment on any basis would be allowed," the bench said adding that no court shall entertain any petition or application in the case and any thing relating to the case has to be filed in the Supreme Court.
The bench also directed the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate to brief it about their second stage of probe into the scam after the CBI filed its first chargesheet in the case on April 2 in the special court.
Venugopal said that the second charge sheet regarding bribery angle in the scam will be filed before April 24.
He said after the filing of the chargesheets, the role of the apex court in monitoring the case will come to an end.
Earlier, the Centre had objected to the appointment of Lalit as SPP saying he did not meet the eligibility criteria for the task.
Government has been at loggerheads with the CBI in the apex court over the agency's decision to appoint Lalit as special public prosecutor, saying he did not meet the eligibility criteria for the task.
It has raised technical objections to Lalit's appointment saying that he should have worked under the state or the Union government for at least seven years to be eligible as the case has been filed under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Senior Advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, had submitted that Lalit had been in the lawyer's panel for the Maharastra government and the Centre for 15 years and five years respectively and he fulfills the criteria.
But the Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati on Thursday had submitted that being in the panel is not sufficient and one should be the government's standing counsel for seven years.
The court had said that the Act does not mention the word "Standing counsel" and the objection raised was highly technical which should be given "reasonable" interpretation.
Vahanvati had said there were some apprehensions that Lalit's appointment as the SPP could be challenged at any stage and it may derail the entire prosecution of the case.
The CBI has registered cases against former Telecom Minister A Raja and others under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The CBI had on April 1 informed the apex court that Lalit will be appointed as special public prosecutor for assisting the special court, set up for the exclusive trial of the 2G spectrum case.
Venugopal had told the court that the agency had been facing lot of difficulties in finalising the name of special public prosecutor to lead a team of its prosecutors in assisting the special court for trial of the 2G case as most of the senior counsel have been hired by one or the other party.
Maintaining that in the given circumstances, Lalit was the best choice as CBI's special public prosecutor, Venugopal had pointed out that he had a vast experience in various criminal laws.
The agency in its first charge sheet alleged that Raja, former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja's personal secretary RK Chandolia, Shahid Usman Balwa and Sanjay Chandra entered into a conspiracy for manipulating the procedure for allocation of spectrum with the aim of favouring companies like Swan Telecom and Unitech Group.
Others named in the charge sheet include Vinod Goenka, a Director of Mumbai-based DB Realty, which was also the promoter of Etisalat DB, Sanjay Chandra, Managing Director of Gurgaon-based real estate company Unitech and Unitech Wireless(Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd and Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara, Group Managing Director and two Senior Vice Presidents of Mumbai-based Reliance Telecom Company.
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