In a crowded-to-capacity court room in Delhi’s Patiala House complex, a special judge hearing the 2G case said that there was “sufficient prima facie evidence” against each accused and put them on trial, beginning November 11. If found guilty, some of them, including former telecom minister A Raja, could end up sentenced to life imprisonment.
Apart from Raja, the special court ordered framing of charges against his party colleague DMK MP Kanimozhi and 15 others. All have been charged under Section 409 of IPC for alleged criminal breach of trust that attracts a maximum punishment of life sentence. The other charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, accepting bribes against most accused fetches them jail term ranging between three years and seven years.
Even so, families of the accused, who had gathered in court, looked relieved because following the framing of charges, bail pleas can now be heard.
“The hurdles for bail have been cleared,” Raja’s lawyer said. But only Kanimozhi has a chance to get out of jail before Diwali, since her bail hearing is coming up on Monday.
The other cases will be taken up after October 26. The court said there was evidence that Raja, former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura and others conspired to allocate “valuable spectrum”, entrusted to them as public servants, to Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless illegally to cause “wrongful gain to the companies and thereby Section 409 is invoked against them”.
The judge also found evidence of Raja flouting rules to issue 2G licenses in 2008, pegging them at 2001 prices, and causing huge losses to the government.
On Kanimozhi, the court found evidence that the Rs 200 crore received by DMK mouthpiece Kalaignar TV was a bribe from the Shahid Balwa-owned DB Realty in return for 2G licence.
Kanimozhi is accused of being the “active brain” behind Kalaignar TV and having been in “regular touch” with Raja.
Besides Raja and Kanimozhi, the judge framed charges against Balwa, his cousin Asif Balwa, their colleagues Rajeev Agarwal and DB Realty managing director Vinod Goenka.
Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani executives Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair have also been charged. Reliance Telecom said they will go to the Delhi high court. “Framing of charges… is not a finding of guilt by the special court,” it said in a statement.
Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar, filmmaker Karim Morani and Raja’s former private secretary R K Chandolia will also face trial.