November 11th, 2011
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2G scam trial begins today

2G Scam New Delhi: The trial in the 2 G spectrum case, one of India’s largest exposed corruption cases would begin today. Telecom Minister A Raja , DMK MP Kanimozhi are among the 150 witnesses who will be examined in the Supreme Court monitored trial. The CBI is all geared up to examine its first witness.

Just a day before the trail was set to begin, DMK Chief Karunanidhi expressed concern over the functioning of the judiciary. Without making a mention of his daughter Kanimozhi who continues to be in jail since May, Karunandihi did question the courts.

Karunanidhi said, “If courts, which are a pillar of Indian democracy, hesitate to ensure and uphold basic legal rights, one cannot but fear where Indian democracy is headed to and what is in store for the future. I also fear if justice is being denied, especially in the light of so many ‘legal experts’ opinions. I wonder if there are unfounded assumptions behind the ruling.”

Of the 28 witnesses to be questioned by the November 30, 11 will be from Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) group and the first witness will be Reliance Group President AN Sethuraman. The CBI will first be dealing with the Reliance-Swan link and try to establish that Swan Telecom was a front for Reliance Telecom and this was a violation of clause 8 of the telecom policy.

AN Sethuraman had submitted the application for the GSM licence on behalf of Swan Telecom in 2007 when the two companies were one. Three Reliance Telecom executives; Gautam doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari nair are behind bars for cheating and conspiracy, essentially hiding the fact that Swan was a cross holding of Reliance at the time of applying for the 2G licences.

Swan Telecom was bought over from Reliance telecom by DB Realty promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka are also behind bars.

The stage was set for the trial of the case on October 22 after Special CBI Judge O P Saini framed charges against all the 17 accused, including three telecom firms, saying there was sufficient prima facie evidence against all of them.

The CBI, in its first list of witnesses submitted before the court for summoning them, had named Group President of Reliance AN Sethuraman, Assistant Vice President of Reliance Capital Ltd Anand Subramaniam and Chief Regulatory Officer of Etisalat DB Telecom Pvt Ltd Vinod Kumar Budhiraja for their examination as prosecution witnesses on Friday.

Of this 11 witnesses are from Reliance which suggest that the agency wants to deal first with the charges against accused firms Reliance Telecom Ltd (RTL) and Shahid Usman Balwa promoted Swan Telecom.

In the first list, CBI has also named General Manager of Reliance Infrastructure Ltd (a Reliance ADAG firm) Ashish Karyekar, Company Secretary of RTL, Hasit Shukla, Senior Vice President (commercial) of Reliance ADAG Vishwanath Devaraja Rao, Director of RTL Satish Seth to be summoned for their examination as prosecution witness.

Besides them, Senior Vice President of accounts and finance (Reliance Infrastructure Ltd) Ashish Tambawala, its Additional Vice President Bharat Amberkar, Senior Vice President Project Finance and Chief Financial Officer of Reliance Power Ltd Deepak Maheshwari and Company Secretary of Reliance Infrastructure Ltd Ramesh Shenoy have also been named in the first list of witnesses.

ADAG-led RTL has been put on trial by the court which said Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd was “just a mask” for RTL.

The court had said the accused Group Managing Director of Reliance ADAG Gautam Doshi, its Group President Surendra Pipara and its senior Vice President Hari Nair had passed on the ineligible firm Swan Telecom to accused Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka of M/s DB Realty Ltd.

Discussing the roles of three Reliance ADAG officials, the court had said they created Swan Telecom from the funds of RTL, the then CDMA player, for applying for the UAS licenses in 13 circles as DoT guidelines barred it from venturing into GSM sector.

RTL and its executives have denied all the allegations against them and have challenged the framing of charges against them before the Delhi High Court.

Besides Raja and Kanimozhi, the court had framed charges against Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara, Hari Nair, Shahid Usman Balwa, Unitech Ltd’s MD Sanjay Chandra, DB Realty MD Vinod Goenka, Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar and Bollywood filmmaker Karim Morani.

Former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja’s former Private Secretary R K Chandolia, directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal, and three telecom firms – RTL, Swan Telecom and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd have also been put on trial in the case.

The charges framed against all the accused under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act dealt with offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, faking documents, abusing official position, getting bribe and criminal misconduct by public servant.

The offences entail punishment ranging from six months in jail to life imprisonment.






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