New Delhi: A key 2G case witness and ex-aide of A Raja on Monday told a Delhi court that the former Telecom Minister was in touch with Swan Telecom promoters, Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka and Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra and had cleared their projects during his stint with Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2004-07.

Aseervartham Achary, Raja's former additional private secretary, told Special CBI Judge O P Saini these three corporate executives, also accused in the 2G case, used to meet Raja and his ex-private secretary R K Chandolia to pursue their cases with the Environment Ministry.

Achary, testifying as seventh prosecution witness, stood by his earlier statements and said that he was attached with Raja from October 1999 to October 2008.

"The big construction projects cleared by Raja as Minister of Environment.. included Unitech, DB Realty and other companies. I do not know the procedure for making such clearances as I was not involved in these clearances.

"As far as Unitech is concerned, Sanjay Chandra and as far as DB Realty is concerned, Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka used to follow up. They used to meet Raja and Chandolia on regular basis to pursue their cases in Ministry of Environment and Forests...," Achary said, adding, they also used to visit Raja's official residence during September-December 2007.

He identified Raja's signatures on two letters of November 2, 2007, addressed to the Prime Minister and said one of the letters was dictated and typed at the official residence of Raja after 9 PM.

"This letter (second letter) was dictated and typed at the official residence of Raja after 9 PM and before 11.30 PM. It is not usual for me to remain present at official residence
of Raja at these hours. I was called to his residence by Raja over phone," he said.

Discussing the drafting of the letter, the witness said "...When I reached the residence of Raja, he told me that a letter has come from the Prime Minister of India and he has to reply back then and there. He asked me to come and let us prepare the reply. I remained at the residence of Raja till about midnight. The reply was dispatched after its preparation at about 11.30 PM."

The witness, whose recording of statement would continue on Tuesday, also identified Raja's signatures on a letter of December 26, 2007 addressed to the Prime Minister.

On the issue of Kalaignar TV, to which DB Realty had allegedly paid Rs 200 crore bribe, Achary said that DMK MP Kanimozhi and its MD Sharad Kumar, accused in the case, were
pursuing the matter regarding the clearance, required to launch a channel, from Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

He also said corporate lobbyist Niira Radia had called him (Achary) on phone on September 18,2008 to convey a message to Raja about putting Kalaignar TV in the Tata Sky bouquet.

"On one occasion, she (Radia) called me because she could not get through to A Raja on phone. She wanted me to convey to Raja about putting Kalaignar TV in the Tata Sky platform.

"She said that she had arranged for putting Kalaignar TV in the Tata Sky platform. This conversation between me and Radia took place on September 18, 2008," he said.

Regarding former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura, also a co-accused, Achary said Behura was the Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forests during Raja's tenure and joined the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) on January 1, 2008 as the Secretary.

Achary also told the court that Raja was under "very much tension" during December 2007 and he had seen him shouting at former Telecom Secretary Behura's predecessor D S Mathur.

Discussing the events, the witness said, "During December 2007, A Raja was under very much tension and on one occasion I heard him shouting as D S Mathur. On hearing this, I opened the door and I saw Raja shouting and arguing with Mathur. I closed the door and came to my seat. I asked Raja as to why he was shouting at Mathur and he replied that 'this man is not listening to me and that is why, I am shouting."

After the prosecutor concluded recording Achary's statement, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Kanimozhi, cross-examined him for few minutes before the court adjourned the hearing for Tuesday.

Jethmalani started cross-examining Achary by complimenting him and said, "I have heard that you are a fighter against corruption".

"It is correct that I am a fighter against corruption and do not mince words as far as fight against corruption is concerned. It is also correct that as a good citizen, I will make every sacrifice to expose corruption, as when as, I come across it," the witness replied.

Jethmalani said he was not an enemy of Achary but was seeking clarifications on what he has said while recording his testimony in the court.

Achary, who left the Telecom Ministry in July 2008, said he had decided to leave Raja in 2005 itself and time and again, had requested the Minister to relieve him so that he could go back to his parent department (Ministry of Railways) to work as full-fledged Section Officer and also to devote time to his family.

"However, Raja was reluctant to relieve me and at last I told him I have to leave him. It is correct that finally, I asked him relieve me in July 2008 and within three months of that, I was relieved and joined my parent ministry, that is, Railway Board," he said.

Court objects to lawyer's "harsh tone"


Meanwhile, a Delhi court on Monday took strong exception to the "harsh tone" of a lawyer appearing for some 2G scam accused including Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, saying he always tries to "overpower" the court.

Special CBI Judge O P Saini pulled up advocate Vijay Aggarwal after he objected to the presence of Investigating Officer (IO) Vivek Priyadarshi and additional IO Rajesh Chahal
in the court during proceedings saying being witnesses in the case, they cannot remain present when statement of another witness is being recorded.

"I would have sent the IO and other witness out of the court but Mr Aggarwal has said this in harsh tone. I have been telling you (Aggawral) for the last one year to tone down your voice in the court but you always try to overpower the court," the judge said, adding, "I always try to agree with you but please be polite."

Aggarwal, however, quickly defended himself and said he was just raising objection to the presence of the two witnesses in court but apologized to the judge immediately.

While Aggarwal was raising objection, other counsel appearing for the accused joined him saying it is the duty of the IO that no other witness should remain present when statement of other witness is being recorded.

As defence counsel raised serious objections, the judge asked senior lawyers present during the proceedings whether IO was permitted to sit inside the court room.

To this senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for DMK MP Kanimozhi, an accused in the case, said that IO should not remain present in the court when statement of other witness is being recorded but unless he (IO) is not intimidating the witness or interfering with the proceedings, he would not raise such objections.

Apart from Balwa, Aggarwal is appearing for DB Realty MD Vinod Goenka, A Raja's former private secretary R K Chandolia and Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetable Pvt Ltd directors Asif Balwa and Rajiv Aggarwal.

Agencies