Special CBI Judge O P Saini started the recording of the statement of the accused by saying that it was a ‘direct conversation’ between the accused and the Judge. (Agencies)
"Now the statement of accused will be recorded. It is a direct conversation between the accused and the judge...you may chose to reply or not reply," he said.
The stage for the recording of evidence of Raja and 16 other accused, including DMK MP Kanimozhi, was set earlier when the court had supplied a draft questionnaire containing 1,718 questions running into 824 pages to the accused.
Meanwhile, the special court which was also scheduled to record the statements of promoters of Essar Group and Loop Telecom, who are facing trial in a case arising out of the probe into the 2G spectrum scam, deferred their deposition before it to May 19.
"I think there will be no time for you today. The matter is adjourned for recording of statement of accused to May 19," he said.
Essar Group promoters Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia, Loop Telecom promoters Kiran Khaitan, her husband I P Khaitan and Essar Group Director (Strategy and Planning) Vikash Saraf are facing trial in the case along with three firms – Loop Telecom Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Tele Holding Ltd.
All of them have denied the charges levelled by CBI in the case, arising out of the probe into the 2G spectrum scam.
In the case involving Raja and 16 others, the court had on November 27 last year concluded recording of prosecution evidence after deposition of CBI's Superintendent of Police Vivek Priyadarshi, the chief investigating officer, got over.
The court had recorded statements of 153 CBI witnesses, including Reliance ADAG chairman Anil Ambani, his wife Tina Ambani, former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and Attorney General G E Vahanvati, running into over 4,400 pages.
Besides Raja and Kanimozhi, former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja's erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra, Reliance ADAG executives -- Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair -- are facing trial in the case.
Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV Director Sharad Kumar and Bollywood producer Karim Morani are also accused in the case.
Besides these 14 accused, three telecom firms Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd are also facing trial in the case.
They have been arraigned as accused in the first two CBI chargesheets filed on April 2 and 25, 2011 respectively.
The court had on October 22, 2011 framed charges against the accused under provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, faking documents, abusing official position, criminal misconduct by public servant and taking bribe.
The offences entail punishment ranging from six months in jail to life imprisonment.
In the case involving promoters of Essar Group and Loop Telecom, the court had framed charges against them for the offences under Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) read with Section 420 (cheating) of the IPC, while substantial charge of cheating was made out against Essar Group Director (Strategy and Planning) Saraf only.
During the recording of evidence in the case, which had commenced on July 26, 2012, the court had recorded statements of 95 CBI witnesses, running into 1,056 pages.
Special CBI Judge O P Saini started the recording of the statement of the accused by saying that it was a ‘direct conversation’ between the accused and the Judge.