The Supreme Court today granted bail to five top executives allegedly involved in the 2G scam, raising the possibility of similar relief for former Telecom Minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and 10 other accused cooling their heels in Tihar Jail here for more than six months. Unitech Limited MD Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom Director Vinod Goenka and Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) executives Hari Nair, Gautam Doshi and Surendra Pipara walked out of prison later in the evening.
Declaring that the right to bail cannot be denied merely because of the community’s sentiments against the accused, the Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to five corporate executives, accused in the 2G spectrum case. “We do not see any good reason to detain the accused in custody, that too, after the completion of the investigation and filing of the chargesheet,” a Bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and HL Dattu ruled.
Acknowledging that the five were charged with “economic offences of huge magnitude” and the offences, if proved, “may jeopardise the economy of the country,” the Bench said at the same time it could not lose sight of the fact that the trial was already on and as such their custody was not necessary for further investigation.
In a 63-page judgment, written by Justice Dattu, the Bench ordered their release after securing a bond with two solvent sureties, each for Rs 5 lakh, from each one of them. The court clarified that the CBI was free to approach it seeking cancellation of their bail if they tried to influence the witnesses or remained absent from the trial without the court’s permission.
Advocates for Raja (the main accused), Kanimozhi and the other accused maintained that their clients were certain to be released on bail within a week as they also stood on a similar ground in all aspects – in terms of number of months behind the bars, the nature of offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act and other laws (criminal conspiracy for causing a huge loss to the government), and the stage of trial.
In the verdict, the SC Bench observed that “it is not in the interest of justice that the accused should be in jail for an indefinite period. No doubt, the offence alleged against the appellants is a serious one…..but that by itself should not deter us from enlarging” them on bail as the CBI had not seriously contended that they would interfere with the trial or tamper with evidence.
Both the seriousness of the charge and the severity of the punishment should be taken into consideration, the Bench explained.