Five corporate executives, named as accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the 2G scam, were today arrested and taken to Tihar Jail after a Delhi court rejected their bail pleas, saying the agency’s apprehensions that they may tamper with evidence and influence witnesses cannot be ruled out.
The special court presided by the Additional Sessions Judge, Mr O.P. Saini, dismissed the interim bail applications of the five in which they had sought protection from arrest for the next seven days on grounds that they had to make arrangements to manage their business responsibilities in their absence.
The court had on April 15 reserved its order on the bail applications of Swan Telecom Director Mr Vinod Goenka, Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd Managing Director Mr Sanjay Chandra, and three top officials of Reliance ADA Group — Mr Gautam Doshi, Mr Surendra Pipara and Mr Hari Nair.
The court concurred with the CBI which apprehended that the accused may tamper with the evidence “by trying to win over witnesses and they may also flee from justice in view of the magnitude of the offence’’.
“These apprehensions cannot be dismissed as too far-fetched at this stage in light of the serious nature of the case…In my considered opinion, it is not a fit case for bail,” Mr Saini said.
The five top corporate leaders, who had appeared after being named in the first chargesheet in the case, were not arrested by the CBI during the probe.
On the plea of defence counsel that the accused be granted bail as they were not arrested during the probe, the court, in its 42-page order, said that the bail can be denied if the crime is of “high magnitude’’.
“I am satisfied that in a case of this magnitude, non-arrest of the accused by the police is of no consequence and bail is to be considered as per the facts and circumstances of the case,” the special judge, who has been appointed exclusively to deal with the 2G case, said.
Following the court order, the five executives were arrested by the CBI and taken to Tihar Jail here. Besides them, the former Telecom Minister, Mr A. Raja, the Swan Telecom promoter, Mr Shahid Usman Balwa, the former telecom secretary, Mr Siddhartha Behura, and Mr Raja’s personal secretary Mr R.K. Chandolia are the other accused in the jail.
Opposing the bail plea of the corporate leaders, special prosecutor Mr U.U. Lalit had said that they should be sent to jail due to fear of witnesses being won over or influenced.
“The severity of the offence cannot be determined by the length of the prescribed punishment. The financial health of the country has been completely bartered in this case and the accused should be remanded to judicial custody for smooth trial,” Mr Lalit had said.
However, senior advocates Mr K.T.S. Tulsi, Mr Mukul Rohatgi and Mr Ranjit Kumar, arguing for corporate leaders, had said that sending the accused, whose arrest was not required during the probe, to jail now would amount to “travesty of justice” and was an “astounding proposition” of law.