New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to five corporate executives charged in the 2G spectrum allocation scam on two sureties of Rs 5 lakh each. This is the first set of bail granted in the mutli-crore telecom spectrum scam, which according to a Comptroller and Auditor General report caused a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the state exchequer.
The two-judge bench comprising justices GS Singhvi and HL Dattu ordered the release of the five corporate executives after asking them to furnish the sureties to the satisfaction of special judge OP Saini holding the trial of
the case as bail condition. While granting the five accused bail, the bench observed that since investigations into the case was over and trial had started, there was no reason why bail should be denied.
The Supreme Court also directed the accused that they cannot travel abroad and must deposit their passports. They have also been prohibited from meeting any witness.
Unitech's Managing Director Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom's Director Vinod Goenka as well of Reliance ADAG officials Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara had been lodged in Tihar jail for over six months.
Vinod Goenka has been charged with criminal conspiracy, cheating, abetment of illegal gratification and forgery while Sanjay Chandra is charged with criminal conspiracy for criminal breach of trust, cheating, forgery, accepting bribe/illegal gratification and misuse of office.
Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) Managing Director Gautam Doshi, Reliance Communications Senior Vice-President Surendra Pipara and Reliance ADAG Senior Vice-President Hari Nair have been charged with cheating, abetment to cheating, criminal conspiracy, criminal conspiracy for criminal breach of trust, cheating, forgery, accepting bribe/illegal gratification and misuse of office.
Chandra's firm was given the 2G spectrum licence by former telecom minister A Raja despite its ineligibility and that his company was tipped-off about the advancement of cut-off dates for applying for the 2G licence.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also alleged that after getting the licences, Unitech and co-accused Swan Telecom had sold their equity to foreign companies much before beginning to roll out of their services, thereby making huge profits.
The CBI is also expected to give its reply to a special court in response to the notice on another accused Shahid Balwa's plea. Balwa has not got bail.
The accused had claimed in the Supreme Court that there was no prima-facie case and no documents to suggest cheating or forgery against them. Even if a prima facie case exists, bail is the rule and denial of it is an exception, the defence had argued.
The defence also claimed that the accused had no criminal past and had all along cooperated with the CBI during the investigation in the case.
Investigation in the case is over, chargesheets have been filed against the accused and they are no longer needed for further investigation hence they should be released on bail, they argued
The CBI on the other hand said that, the accused were influential persons and if released on bail they could tamper with the evidence and that the offence committed by the accused was very grave.
Wednesday's order could be sited by other accused in the 2G case to seek bail.
Former telecom minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi along with 12 other people and three companies have been accused in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case. They have been charged under Indian Penal Code Section 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent). The maximum punishment if convicted for criminal breach of trust is life term while the minimum punishment is seven years in prison.