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Delhi HC orders daily hearing in 2G case

The Delhi High Court said on Thursday it will start hearing on a day to day basis from August 28 the appeals by the CBI and ED against the acquittal of former telecom minister A Raja, business entities and others in the 2G spectrum allocation case. Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma expressed displeasure over a request for an adjournment made by the counsel for the probe agencies and directed that the matter be listed after two weeks for submissions. ”How will we continue like this? We can’t continue giving dates like this,” the judge said. On March 19, 2018, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had approached the high court, challenging a special court’s order of December 2017 acquitting all the accused. A day later, the CBI too challenged in the high court the acquittal of the accused.

The matter is currently at the stage of ‘leave to appeal’ which is a formal permission granted by a court to a party to challenge a decision in a higher court. On Thursday, a request was made to the court to defer the hearing till September end to await the appointment of special counsel for Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to argue the appeal.

The court, however, remarked that things ”cannot be hanging fire like this”. The court asked the ED counsel to begin submissions on the issue of leave to appeal. It was, however, informed the ED’s case would be based on CBI’s submissions.

”List after two weeks. Thereafter the matter shall be taken up on day to day basis,” said the court as it listed the case for hearing on August 28. Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, who appears for some of those acquitted including R K Chandolia, who was Raja’s private secretary when the alleged scam had happened, urged the court to take up an application by two private companies seeking vacation of attachment of their properties following their acquittal in the case.

”I am honourably acquitted. Not a single property can be attached now,” Aggarwal argued.

The court said it will first hear the leave to appeal.

Earlier, the case was heard on a day to day basis by Justice Brijesh Sethi, who retired on November 30, 2020. He had released the matter from his board on November 23 of the same year 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 lodged by the CBI and the ED. The CBI has contended there are glaring illegalities in the judgment passed by the trial court that acquitted the former telecom minister, business firms and others in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case.

It has argued that the evidence placed before the special court was disregarded.

The special court had on December 21, 2017 acquitted all the accused in the case, including prime accused Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi, holding that the prosecuting agencies failed to prove the charge. Besides Raja and Kanimozhi, the special court had acquitted former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja’s former private secretary R K Chandolia, Unitech Limited managing director Sanjay Chandra and three top executives of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG) — Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair — in the 2G case lodged by the CBI.

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

The special court had also acquitted Swan Telecom (Private) Limited, Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Limited, Reliance Telecom Limited, film producer Karim Morani and Kalaignar TV director Sharad Kumar in the CBI case.

On the same day, the special court had 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.

It 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. The 2G spectrum scandal had rocked the UPA 2 government headed by Manmohan Singh. It pertained to alleged presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer, according to a report submitted by government auditor Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG). The Centre for Public Interest Litigation, which had filed the first petition, alleged the loss was caused by issuing second generation (2G) spectrum licences in 2008 based on 2001 prices and by not following a competitive bidding process. PTI

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