The 2G-spectrum scam trial began on Friday with two senior Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (R-ADAG) executives appearing as prosecution witnesses before a special CBI court.
Reliance Capital Ltd vice-president Anand Subramaniam was the first of the 150 people to be examined as CBI witnesses, followed by Reliance Group president AN Sethuraman, whose deposition would continue on Monday.
But India's biggest corruption trial began on an acrimonious note as lawyers for all the 17 accused — including former telecom minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi — protested against holding the trial in a cramped, overcrowded and noisy courtroom. Raja's lawyer Sushil Kumar refused to cross-examine witnesses, saying he would do so only after the investigation was complete.
The CBI produced Subramaniam as a witness to support its case that Swan Telecom was the front company of Reliance ADAG to secure the licence for 2G spectrum. Three Reliance ADAG executives — Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair — are among the accused.
Subramaniam told the court that the documents for opening a bank account of Swan Telecom Ltd, promoted by accused Shahid Balwa, and cheques for it were signed by executives of Reliance ADAG. But he failed to recollect where the instructions had come from.
"I signed the documents as there was a board resolution in our favour including myself," he told special judge OP Saini. Regarding the four separate cheques issued by Reliance Communication Ltd in favour of Swan Telecom between May and June 2007, he identified the signatures of his colleagues AB Venkat Ramani, Dinesh Kulkarni and Arun Rane.
But when he was asked to identify the account number of Reliance Communication Ltd, he failed to do so. He said he was not aware of the purpose of the issuance of cheques in favour of Swan Telecom.
None of the senior DMK functionaries were present in the court on Friday, leading to speculation that party chief M Karunanidhi wished to avoid an impression that his party was seeking to influence the case against his daughter.