2G scam: CBI commences fresh arguments in HC in appeal against acquittals

CBI commenced arguments afresh in the Delhi High Court on January 14 in its appeal against the acquittal of former Telecom Minister A. Raja and others in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case.

However, the arguments via videoconferencing before Justice Yogesh Khanna had to be stopped after only a brief hearing due to connectivity issues.

During the brief proceedings, advocate Vijay Aggarwal, appearing for some of the acquitted persons, told the high court that around 6,500 pages containing the final arguments of the accused and the CBI before the trial court were not found in the digital records supplied to him. The hearing will continue on January 15.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which had earlier concluded its submissions on the issue of ‘leave to appeal’, had to start arguing afresh due to change of judge.

Leave to appeal is a formal permission granted by a court to a party to challenge a decision in a higher court.

Earlier, the case was being heard on a day-to-day basis by Justice Brijesh Sethi, who retired on November 30 last year and had released the matter from his board on November 23, 2020 owing to paucity of time.

Before demitting the office, Justice Sethi had decided various petitions and applications filed by the acquitted individuals and firms in the three cases, arising out of the 2G scam probe, lodged by CBI and ED.

After finishing submissions in the CBI’s main case, the high court will take up the ED’s money laundering case in which also all the accused were acquitted by the special court.

A special court had on December 21, 2017 acquitted Mr. Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and others in the CBI and the ED cases related to the scam.

Besides Raja and Kanimozhi, the special court had acquitted former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura; Raja’s erstwhile private secretary R.K. Chandolia; Unitech Ltd. MD Sanjay Chandra and three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG) — Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair, in the 2G case filed by the CBI.

Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka and directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt. Ltd. Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal were also acquitted in the CBI case.

The special court had also acquitted Swan Telecom (P) Ltd.; Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd.; Reliance Telecom Ltd.; film producer Karim Morani and Director of Kalaignar TV Sharad Kumar in the CBI case.

On the same day, the special court also acquitted 19 accused, including Raja, Kanimozhi, DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal, Vinod Goenka, Asif Balwa, Karim Morani, P. Amirtham and Sharad Kumar in the ED case.

The special court had also acquitted Essar Group promoters Ravi Kant Ruia and Anshuman Ruia, Loop Telecom promoters I.P. Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan and four others in a separate case arising out of the 2G scam probe.

On March 19, 2018, the ED approached the High Court challenging the special court’s order acquitting all the accused.

A day later, the CBI too challenged in the high court the acquittal of the accused in the case.

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