November 12th, 2011
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Raja’s efforts to divert attention falls flat

A RajaNew Delhi: Former telecom minister A Raja’s effort to put the brakes on the trial in the 2G case was turned down by the special court on Friday, which, incidentally, saw the start of witness testimony. Accusing the prosecution of being “dishonest”, Raja’s counsel Sushil Kumar suggested the trial should not take place until the CBI declares the investigation complete.

“I cannot understand why you (judge) do not wait for the investigation to be over. Just note my status, I refuse (to participate in cross examination),” Kumar said. Special judge O. P. Saini, however, brushed aside the objection and recorded the statements of two Reliance ADAG officials.

The former telecom minister, along with 16 others, are accused of buying, selling or abetting the sale of valuable 2G spectrum to firms in return of bribes, causing a massive loss to the exchequer. The case already contains two chargesheets with more than 150 witnesses and 80,000 documents, but the CBI has suggested that another chargesheet is to come.

“Ask the public prosecutor whether investigation is complete. He knows it all,” Kumar said, adding that the CBI has told the Supreme Court that it was still probing matters related to Loop Telecom in the 2G case. “Loop Telecom is under examination. The Supreme Court is aware of the matter. These grounds are good enough. You can defer it (the trial) simply… Why doesn’t it (CBI) make a simple statement that investigation is complete?”

Raja, through his counsel and his application, insisted that he was not interfering with the trial but was choosing not to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses until the investigation is declared complete.”As soon as the investigation is completed and all the statements are supplied to the applicant (Raja), the right to recall the witnesses for cross examination will be exercised,” Kumar said, in his plea.

The court summarily dismissed Raja’s application, saying this was not a suitable reason for the trial to be halted. “I may allow your (Raja) application on some other grounds but not on this ground,” Justice Saini said while rejecting the plea. The crowded courtroom then played host to the first of more than 150 witnesses in the corruption trial – Anand Subramaniam, an assistant vice-president of Reliance Capital.

Subramaniam is the first of a number of officials whose statements the prosecution is hoping will prove the link between Reliance and coaccused Swan Telecom. Subramaniam Subramaniam admitted that while working for a Reliance company, he had put his signature on a letter addressed to HDFC Bank which had said that Swan Telecom was a group company of Reliance Communication.

In his statement given to the CBI, Subramaniam had claimed that he had handed this letter over to HDFC Bank based on telephonic instructions of Hari Nair, one of the Reliance officials accused in the case. In court, however, Subramaniam claimed he could not remember who had ordered him to sign the letter.

“I signed the documents as there was a board resolution in our favour. On seeing the letter (addressed to HDFC), I do not recollect as to under whose instructions I had signed this letter,” Subramaniam said in court.



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