The high-profile Rs 7,000- crore Satyam fraud case is likely to be transferred to a special sessions court to expedite trial,according to a senior police officer. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which is probing into the fraud after the software firm’s disgraced founder B Ramalinga Raju confessed to fudging the books, will shortly recommend the transfer of the case to a special sessions court. The high court will nominate a special sessions judge if the state government gives its approval, said a senior police official involved in the investigation.
In 1992, a special court was set up to expedite the trial of “Big Bull” Harshad Mehta. The special court was a bench of the High Court and was headed by Justice S N Variava. The Supreme Court later ruled
that the special court had all powers of a sessions court or a magistrate.
The state police fears that the legal process could be time-consuming in regular over-burdened courts. “The Satyam case relates to a brazen and complex financial fraud, which has tarnished the image of the IT industry in India and abroad. There may be some merit in setting up a special sessions court with the expertise to handle such a case,” said a corporate lawyer who did not wish to be named.
The fraud perpetrated by Raju is the biggest in Indian corporate history. The probe has now been widened to cover Maytas Properties and Maytas Infra, the two firms linked to the promoter. Investigating agencies are trying to trace the money missing from the software firm’s books and suspect that it may have gone into shell companies floated by Raju to trade in land and real estate. “We have evidence of insider trading in several companies floated by Raju. His close relatives were on the boards of over 300 firms floated by him over the past several years,” the official said. While the income tax department has powers to attach the properties of Raju and his family, the state police can do so only after filing a chargesheet, said a senior police official. Raju, his brother Rama Raju and the former chief financial officer at Satyam are in judicial custody. Investigating agencies including Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Serious Frauds Investigation Office have been unable to interrogate Raju and his brother due to legal hurdles.
The AP High Court on Friday dismissed SEBI’s plea to interrogate Raju and his brother on grounds that the order cannot be passed until the accused contests the market regulator’s plea.
The Court also asked the Serious Fraud Investigation Office to file a petition seeking the custody of the Raju brothers and their chief financial officer Srinivas Vadlamani for interrogation after February 9.
Meanwhile, two public interest litigations (PIL) have been filed in court. One PIL questioned the Rs 121-crore road project awarded to Maytas Infra on a nomination basis and another sought action against the former Satyam chairman for fudging books.