New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its order on the bail plea of five corporate honchos who are in jail for over six months for their alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and H L Dattu heard the arguments on the plea of corporate executives – Unitech Wireless' MD Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom's Director Vinod Goenka and Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group's executives Hari Nair, Gautam Doshi and Surrendra Pipara - who have approached the Apex Court for bail.

2G: FM note controversy continues

They have moved the Apex Court challenging Delhi High Court and trial court orders turning dowm their bail pleas. CBI opposed their bail plea saying that they can approach the trial court for the relief.

The accused who have been charged under various offences under the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act contended that they should be granted bail as the charges have already been framed and there is no chance of them tampering with the evidence.

The bench, while reserving order, expressed anguish over the media reports of the Apex Court proceedings in the case.

It said proceedings in the trial court would not get influenced by these reports. The bench also took on record the stand taken by CBI in the trial court of not opposing the bail plea of DMK MP Kanimozhi, Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar, Directors of Kusegaon Fruits & Vegetables Asif Balwa, Rajiv Agarwal and Bollywood producer Karim Morani.

Other accused in the case include former Telecom Minister A Raja, former Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura and Raja's former private secretary R K Chandolia.

Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, his cousin Asif Balwa and their colleague Rajeev Agarwal have also been booked in the case.

The accused included three telecom firms Reliance Telecom Ltd, Swan Telecom and Unitech (Tamil Nadu) Wireless Ltd. All the accused have pleaded that they have not done anything wrong and refuted the charge of drawing illegal benefits in allocation of 2G spectrum.

CBI accused of discrimination

Earlier in the day, former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura, arrested for his alleged role in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, had accused the CBI in a Delhi court of discriminating among various accused in the case by not opposing their bail pleas for political considerations.

"The prosecution is making distinction (among accused). It shows there is political intrusion in the legal process," senior advocate Aman Lekhi said while referring to the CBI's stand of not opposing the bail pleas of five accused, including DMK MP Kanimozhi.

Lekhi made the allegation before Special Judge O P Saini, who later reserved his order on Behura's bail plea for November 3, when the court is slated to pronounce its order on seven other accused as well.

They included Kanimozhi, Kalignar TV Managing Director Sharad Kumar, filmmaker Karim Morani and Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables directors Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, whose bail pleas were not opposed by the CBI.

CBI, however, had contested the bail pleas of Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa and former Telecom Minister A Raja's erstwhile Private Secretary R K Chandolia, saying the specific charges framed against them carry up to seven years jail term.

"It is a colourable exercise of power. If the prosecution has conceded bail to Kanimozhi and (four) others, then all accused should be treated equally. Law makes no distinction among the accused," Lekhi contended in the court arguing for bail to Behura.

"On what basis they (CBI) are distinguishing it? The Supreme Court has rightly asked, to the CBI, to explain that on what basis they are doing so (discriminating)," he said.

Lekhi accused the CBI of "holding the brief" for some of the accused and not opposing their bail pleas.

"It is strange that the prosecutor is holding the brief for some of the accused. I am amazed the public prosecutor comes to the court and pleads for those (accused) who have allegedly received the bribe," he said.

Denying Lekhi's allegations, Special Public Prosecutor U U Lalit asserted, "I do not hold brief for anyone. I stand here as PP purely in the capacity of an impartial observer to place the facts before the court."

"I felt that a distinction could be made. There is nothing that I am holding the brief for accused or the CBI has some agenda," Lalit added.

He said the change in circumstances after framing of charges against Behura is detrimental to him as earlier the charge sheet indicted him with charges punishable up to seven years of jail term whereas now he is charged under Section 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) of IPC, carrying life term on conviction.

Lalit said the CBI had not opposed the bail pleas of five accused as the charges against them carried maximum jail term of five years, while the CBI was opposing the bail pleas of those who may be jailed for seven years or more if held guilty.

The court had on October 22 charged 17 accused including former Telecom Minister A Raja, his erstwhile Private Secretary Chandolia and Behura with offences of hatching conspiracy with others to allocate the spectrum illegally to telecom firms, Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd, causing wrongful gain to them, while committing breach of trust and abusing their offices.

(JPN/Agencies)