New Delhi: A Delhi court on Saturday found prima facie evidence against all the 17 accused including former Telecom Minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi and corporate honchos to frame charges against them in the 2G Spectrum allocation scam case for varying roles.

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The court found prima facie evidence to frame charges against Raja's former Private Secretary R K Chandolia and former Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura.

In addition, it said there was evidence for framing of charges against Raja, Behura and Chandolia under section 409 of the IPC for the offence of breach of trust against them which attracts maximum punishment of life term.

With an important milestone crossed in the case, the accused can now move for bail as observed by the Supreme Court during the hearing of bail petition by Kanimozhi earlier.

Special CBI Judge O P Saini said evidence is there for framing of charges against telecom firms Reliance Telecom Ltd, Swan Telecom and Unitech (Tamil Nadu) Wireless Ltd.

The judge also said CBI has also brought evidence to frame charges against corporate executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group's Managing Director Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara, Group's President and Hari Nair, senior Vice President.

Others against whom charges will be framed are Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, his cousin Asif Balwa, their colleague Rajeev Agarwal, Unitech Ltd's MD Sanjay Chandra and DB Realty MD Vinod Goenka.

The court wanted to frame the charges on Saturday itself but all the accused said they need time to go through the over 700-page order on charges to be framed later.

The court found prima facie evidence to frame various penal charges including cheating, forgery, abetment and criminal conspiracy against the accused.

It also found prima facie evidence of abuse of official position by Raja, Chandolia and Behura.
The court had reserved its order on October 14 after hearing day-to-day arguments on behalf of accused and the CBI for nearly two months.

The trial of the accused would begin after the court pronounces its order on framing of charges in the case.

The CBI, in its first chargesheet filed on April 2, had charged Raja and others with causing a huge loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer by allocating spectrum to ineligible operators as per a criminal conspiracy among themselves.

Special CBI Prosecutor U U Lalit had argued that there was "sufficient prima facie" evidence against all the accused to proceed with the trial as everyone of them was part of the conspiracy and the intent to commit offence "may be inferred from their knowledge".

On the other hand, all the accused including Raja had vehemently opposed the framing of charges and the plea of CBI that they caused a loss to the state in the grant of spectrum licenses.

Raja, during the arguments, sought to drag names of the Prime Minister and then Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the case saying they were kept apprised about the developments in the 2G spectrum allocation.

In its second charge sheet filed on April 25, the CBI had named Kanimozhi as an accused in the case for allegedly receiving Rs 200 crore in DMK-run Kalaignar TV as illegal gratification from Shahid Balwa's D B Group through a circuitous route.

The agency alleged Kanimozhi had entered into criminal conspiracy along with the prime accused Raja.

Besides Kanimozhi, four others---Kalaignar TV Managing Director Sharad Kumar, Karim Morani, Director of Cineyug Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd, Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa's cousin Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal, who are Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd--- were named in the charge sheet.

Accused hope for early bail

With a Delhi court on Saturday framing charges against the accused, including former Telecom Minister A Raja and others, in 2G spectrum allocation case and deciding to put them on trial from November 11, the jailed accused hoped for bail soon.

Majid Memon, the counsel for Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, hoped for early bail to his client. He recalled a Supreme Court observation which stipulated that the accused should move court for bail only after framing of charges in the case.

"As far as bail is concerned, in my view the order passed today is an important milestone in view of what the Apex Court had said some months earlier while deciding the bail pleas of
Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar that they can renew their bail pleas after framing of charges," Memon told reporters outside the court.

Counsel for Raja's former Private Secretary R K Chandolia, Vijay Aggarwal, too hoped for early bail to his client and other accused saying the court should grant bail to them to enable them prepare a strong case in their defence.

"The court should grant bail to all the accused," Aggarwal said, adding the bail pleas of all accused will come up for hearing on October 24.

Aggarwal also represents another Swan Telecom promoter Vinod Goenka and directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables -- Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal.

"Whatever the charges, bail is their right and it should be given so that the person prepares for trial", he said.  Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy, whose public interest litigation to the Supreme Court led to CBI probe into the 2G spectrum allocation case, expressed happiness with the order on charge, saying the same augurs well with an early
conclusion.

"I am quite satisfied with the way the learned judge has framed the charges. It augurs well for an early conclusion. Hopefully, in six months, some of them would start getting
convicted. "

On the alleged role of Anil Ambani, Swamy said, "Question might come as to why Anil Ambani has not been named. Well, there is no bar stopping the number of accused from getting expanded."

Senior advocate Harish Salve, who appeared for some corporate houses in the Supreme Court opposing a plea for cancellation of telecom licences to them, termed the framing of charges as "moment of truth" for CBI.

"TRAI itself is not accepting any loss of revenue. CBI has to prove it beyond reasonable doubt," Salve said.

"It is very easy to allege but very difficult to prove. Now, the moment of truth has come to prove it by way of documents. Let's see how CBI crosses this bridge and proves loss of revenue."

On how soon the trial can be expected to begin, Salve said "there is a procedure by which documents have to be made available to all the accused. The nature of the case is such that there is no eye witness in the case and 90 per cent is the case is by way of documents. So, I think, the trial should begin within ten days."

Charges against accused dismay their kin

The framing of charges in 2G spectrum allocation case on Saturday saw a crowd of hopeful relatives and well wishers of the accused at a Delhi court who returned dismayed after the judge charged all accused.

The accused persons' relatives, including their children, numbering around ten, reached the court premises well before the scheduled opening of court at 10 am but found the courtroom bolted from inside.

As the doors of the courtroom opened at 11.50 a.m., all those waiting outside the courtroom rushed inside, creating a near-stampede.

Special Judge O P Saini began the court proceedings, explaining the delay in opening the courtroom.

"I am sorry for the delay as I was not able to ready the order at 10 AM and the door remained closed," the judge said.

Framing of charges is an important stage of a case as it decides what all charges are being made out against the accused and at this stage the court may also discharge those accused against whom no substantial evidence is found.

The order on framing of charges left the relatives and well wishers of the accused disappointed and some of them were seen sobbing and consoling each other. They included DMK MP Kanimozhi's mother and Bollywood filmmaker Karim Morani's daughters.

(JPN/Agencies)