Over 15 months after he was arrested,former telecom minister A Raja was today granted bail by a Delhi court in the 2G spectrum case. Under his bail conditions,the prime 2G scam accused cannot visit Tamil Nadu without the courts permission and has been forbidden from visiting the office of the Department of Telecom.
The DMK MP had to furnish a personal bond of Rs 20 lakh and two sureties of like amount,and surrender his passport.
In his 14-page order,Special CBI Judge O P Saini said that the trial was progressing well and there was nothing on record to suggest that Raja would flee from justice or tamper with evidence if he was released.
… all other accused in the case have also been released on bail… Considering the period of detention,in the light of the progress of the case,I am of the opinion that further detention of the accused would not serve any purpose, said the judge.
The courts announcement,in a packed room at the Patiala House courts complex,was met with spontaneous applause and cheers by DMK workers. Raja himself held his hands aloft in victory sign before being escorted to the courts lock-up facility. Later in the day,he was released from Tihar jail.
We are very happy (but) there will be no celebrations. Our whole family will have a get-together after a very long time, said Rajas wife M A Parameswari. Senior DMK leader T R Baalu,who also arrived in the court later,said: We are very happy with the courts landmark order. While other accused were present when the order came,Kanimozhi had left for the Parliament session after registering her presence at the court in the morning.
Though the CBI expressed apprehension that Raja may influence witnesses or tamper with evidence if released from custody,the court noted that no such incident had been brought to its notice in the one year since the trial began. Further,it said,these apprehensions could be addressed by imposing stricter conditions and restrictions hence Raja was told to stay away from Tamil Nadu and the DoT.
The court also noted that the 2G case was at the stage of prosecution evidence and till date,statements of 42 witnesses,running into 1,600 pages,had already been recorded.
Raja had applied for bail only five days ago,soon after the Supreme Court granted bail to former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura. He appealed that he should be given bail on the grounds of parity with the 13 other accused who have been granted the relief.
The CBI opposed the plea saying there was a fresh allegation of Raja receiving a bribe of Rs 200 crore that was till being investigated. The agency also submitted that it was investigating Rajas links with Mauritius-based firm Delphi,to which Reliance Telecom had allegedly transferred shares. Further,it said,witnesses from Tamil Nadu would not feel safe if Raja was relased on bail.
Arrested on February 1,2011,Raja has been charged with cheating,forgery,criminal conspiracy and corruption besides criminal breach of trust that entails a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.