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Wednesday, 02 November 2011 00:00
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Different strokes

Intro: CBI can’t have different stands on bail for the 2G accused


The Supreme Court has done well to point out the obvious inconsistencies in the CBI stance over bail for the 2G accused. Until the charges were framed by the trial court, CBI’s stance was that, if released, the accused could tamper with the evidence as they were powerful people. While that seemed wishy-washy even then—after all, by that logic, they can tamper with the evidence after their release on bail once the charges were framed—CBI has gone a step further and opposed the bail pleas of some accused while not opposing those of others. CBI is not opposing the bail pleas of DMK MP Kanimozhi along with four others—Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables promoters Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal, Cineyug Film’s Karim Morani and Kalaignar TV’s managing director Sharad Kumar. Indeed, given that the only money trail CBI has found has been that from Shahid Balwa’s DB Realty to Kanimozhi’s Kalaignar TV, you’d think it would be most anxious to keep Kanimozhi behind bars! The problem appears to be that, given the incomplete nature of the investigation, CBI is probably hoping that a longer stint in jail will persuade some of the accused to turn state’s witness. But surely CBI has had enough time to collect enough evidence by now—it first filed its FIR in October 2009. It is true the arrested Reliance Group (formerly ADAG) employees haven’t pointed a finger at anyone, but that doesn’t change CBI’s argument—whether the court buys it or not has to be seen—that if around a thousand crore rupees were given to Swan Telecom by Reliance Group firms, the two were related.

The fact that the investigations—into who owns Delphi, the company to whom part of the Swan equity was sold to at a lower price than that to the Dubai-based Etisalat—are not complete can’t be any excuse to oppose bail to the corporate honchos either. Given how many years such investigations into trails leading to various tax havens have taken in the past, this would require the 2G accused to spend many years in jail. As FE has pointed out earlier, there are several gaps in the CBI investigation (the dual technology scam has not even been probed) as well as various inconsistencies (Datacom has been given a clean chit for jumping the queue thanks to A Raja’s actions but both Swan and Unitech Wireless have been chargesheeted for the same thing). The law ministry’s curious definition of ‘associate’ firms and how Clause 8 of the telecom licence applies to ‘licensees’ and not ‘applicants’, similarly, knocks a huge hole in CBI’s case. But opposing bail to the accused isn’t going to fix any of this.



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