Former Telecom Minister A Raja today opposed in a Delhi court CBI’s plea for placing on record a CD containing recorded conversations and transcripts of calls of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia pertaining to 2G spectrum allocation. In a two-page reply before Special CBI Judge O P Saini,Raja said the agency’s plea did not mention the reason for not submitting these documents at the time of filing of charge sheet.
The judge deferred the hearing on the plea for July 9. “The application under reply is sans any provision of law. It is true to mention that there is no provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC),1973 under which a document or article can be filed before the trial court at such a belated stage,” Raja said in his reply. “The application under reply does not mention the reason for not placing the impugned CD and transcripts at the time of filing of the charge sheet,” he said. Seeking dismissal of CBI’s plea,Raja said that the agency has admitted that the alleged interception was not carried out by it yet its application “does not establish either the time of preparation of the CD,or its handing over,or its safe custody”.
Raja also said that though the CBI’s application seeks to place on record a letter dated May 20,2010 of the Income tax Department but it has not been filed by the agency. “Admittedly,the primary evidence of call recording that is the hard disk,has been with the CBI since May 20,2010,yet the same has never been placed on record before this court neither at the time of the charge sheet nor thereafter. “In view of the said admission,secondary evidence of the calls cannot be allowed to be led,” he said. Meanwhile,the court also deferred for July 9 the hearing on CBI’s separate plea seeking to make 17 persons as witnesses in the case.
Contending that CBI’s plea was “legally untenable”,Raja said,”It is settled law that primary evidence of interception of calls cannot be withheld on the ground of confidentiality as contended by the CBI.” CBI had moved the court,saying that out of the 62 taped conversations of 53-year-old Radia,it had already submitted transcripts of 12 conversations before it and now it wanted to place on record the rest for “fairness”. Special Public Prosecutor U U Lalit had told the court these transcripts relate to the conversation between Radia and other individuals and the calls were intercepted by the Income Tax Department.
A total of 5,800 calls were intercepted by the Income Tax Department and only these 62 conversations were “directly or remotely” related to the 2G spectrum case,Lalit had said. CBI’s plea was opposed by the counsel appearing for the accused,saying that transcripts cannot be taken on record at this stage and the agency should have done it earlier. The defence counsel had contended that CBI cannot be allowed to plug its lacunae by placing on record these transcripts at this stage. In the transcripts produced before the court,Radia is allegedly discussing the issue of lobbying for 2G licences for her clients Unitech and Tata Tele Services Ltd (TTSL) and how certain rivals were on the verge of getting it. On May 28,the court had deferred recording of statement of Radia,saying that it would be continued after the issue of placing on record the transcripts and CD is decided. In her deposition as a prosecution witness in the case,Radia had said that TTSL,which was ahead in the queue for allocation of 2G spectrum,lost the race while an “ineligible” Swan Telecom,said to be owned by ADAG Reliance Communications,was granted the radiowaves.
Radia,who had appeared for the first time in the court on May 28 as a CBI witness,had said that she was advising the Tatas on telecom issues and TTSL had opposed the allocation of spectrum to Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd (STPL) and Reliance Communications Ltd. CBI,in its charge sheet,had alleged that Reliance Telecom Ltd (RTL),an accused in the case,used Swan Telecom,an ineligible firm,as its front company to get licences and the costly radio waves. STPL and its promoters,Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka,who were arrested and are at present on bail,are facing trial in the case along with Raja,DMK MP Kanimozhi and others.
In her statement recorded during the probe under section 161 of the CrPC (dealing with examination of witnesses) before CBI,Radia had said that STPL,facing trial in the 2G case,was “not eligible” to get the Unified Access Service (UAS) Licences.