Spelling more trouble for former telecom minister A Raja and two of his former aides chargesheeted in the 2G spectrum scam case, the CBI on Monday sought to slap against them a tougher charge of criminal breach of trust by public servants that entails a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
The move is likely to delay framing of charges against the accused and also make it difficult for them to get bail as the latest charge is the gravest till now.
"It is submitted the facts, circumstances, allegations and evidence on record make out a charge under section 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code in addition to the offences mentioned in the charge sheet," the CBI said in its application.
The agency has sought framing of additional charges against Raja, his former personal secretary RK Chandolia and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, who are already facing charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal misconduct as public servant, cheating and forgery.
The penal provisions under which the accused had been charged so far provided for seven years jail term as the maximum sentence if found guilty."The accused Raja, Behura and Chandolia were public servants having a dominion over valuable 2G spectrum in their respective capacities as public servants," the CBI said, adding, they flouted the law in award of licenses, which made out a case of criminal breach of trust against them.
The CBI also sought to slap the rest 14 accused, including DMK MP Kanimozhi and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa, with an additional charge by making them a party to criminal conspiracy hatched by Raja and two other public servants for committing criminal breach of trust. They could face a charge of abetment to commit criminal breach of trust by a public servant.
As the CBI moved its application seeking to add the new charge, advocates for the accused vehemently opposed it. The relatives of Chandolia and other accused were taken aback by the development.
Senior Advocate Sushil Kumar, representing Raja, told the court that home minister P Chidambaram should be examined as a witness to prove the minutes of a Cabinet meeting that cleared the off-loading of shares by Swan Telecom and Unitech to two foreign firms.
BJP spokesperson JP Nadda demanded that Chidambaram should be sacked and criminal investigation be initiated.