A court here today reserved till April 20 its order on the bail plea of five corporate honchos, accused in the 2G spectrum scam, after CBI argued that they be sent to jail as the fear of witnesses being won over or influenced is there.
"The severity of the offence cannot be determined by the length of the prescribed punishment. The financial health of the country has been completely bartered in this case and the accused should be remanded to judicial custody for smooth trial," special public prosecutor U U Lalit said.
CBI Judge O P Saini, after hearing the arguments for three hours, reserved pronouncement of the order on April 20 and ordered "status quo" vis-a-vis the personal liberty of the accused who have not been arrested during the probe.
"Considering the matter on record, complicity of the present accused in the crime is clearly made out. The act complained of and offences alleged are serious, having made deep inroads in public interest and financial affairs of the state."
"The accused are holding high positions and now that the names of witnesses are disclosed, some of whom are directly working under/or amenable to their directions, the possibility of winning over and/ or influencing the witnesses is clearly there," CBI, in its reply, alleged.
The agency feared the accused "will abscond" in order to avoid smooth running of the trial, Lalit said.
Opposing CBI's plea, senior advocates K T S Tulsi, Mukul Rohatgi and Ranjit Kumar, arguing for corporate leaders, said sending the accused, whose arrest was not required during the probe, to jail now would amount to "travesty of justice" and was an "astounding proposition" of law.
Lalit, the SC-appointed prosecutor, in his response, cited the ruling of the apex court on cancellation of bail granted to Ramalingam Raju in the Satyam fraud case.
"The length of punishment is not the only criteria to gauge the severity of the offence. Here is a case of enormous and wider ramifications affecting the economic health of the country," Lalit said.
The prosecutor, however, made a concession to the bail plea of ailing accused Surendra Pipara, Group President of Reliance ADA Group, saying "it is up to the court to take a view."
Top corporate leaders Swan Telecom Director Vinod Goenka, Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd Managing Director Sanjay Chandra, and three top officials of Reliance ADA Group Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair were present during the hearing.