New Delhi:  Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa was on Tuesday granted bail by a Delhi court which applied the "principle of parity" by taking cue from the Supreme Court and the High Court's order providing relief to 10 other accused in 2G spectrum allocation scam case.
   
With the release of Shahid Balwa, all corporate executives accused in the case have secured bail and only the three public servants former Telecom Minister A Raja, former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura and Raja's former Private Secretary R K Chandolia is in jail.
   
Special CBI Judge O P Saini, who has so far dismissed all bail applications moved before him in the case, granted relief to Shahid Balwa on the same conditions which were imposed by the Apex Court and the High Court while granting bail to the other accsued.
      
The court accepted the submission of Balwa's counsel Vijay Aggarwal that charges framed against his client were identical to that of accused Vinod Goenka, Director of Swan Telecom, who has been granted bail by the Apex Court. CBI also did not oppose Balwa's bail plea on the ground of parity.
   
"Since as many as ten co-accused referred to above (in the order) have been granted bail by the Supreme Court as well as the High Court and the charges against accused Vinod Goenka and applicant/accused Shahid Usman Balwa are almost identical, following the principle of parity, I am inclined to admit him to bail and he is accordingly admitted to bail," the court said.
   
Shahid Balwa, who was in jail since his arrest on February 8 this year, was granted the relief on furnishing a personal bond of Rs five lakh with two sureties of the like amount. The court, in its 3-page order, said Shahid Balwa would not directly or indirectly make any inducement or threat to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to "dissuade" him to disclose such facts.
   
The judge directed Balwa to surrender his passport before the court and also granted liberty to CBI to move an application for modification or recalling the order "if for any reason, the petitioner (Balwa) violates any of the conditions imposed by this court or creates any condition which is not conducive to the holding of a fair trial."
   
The judge said Balwa should not remain absent from any proceedings related to the case without the prior permission of the court and should also inform the CBI about it.
   
Earlier, during the brief arguments on the bail plea, Special Public Prosecutor U U Lalit preferred not to oppose it saying the "prosecution has no objection if accused Shahid Balwa is admitted to bail."
   
"As an officer of this court, considering the umbrella charges with individual charges framed against the accused, we are not opposing the bail plea at this juncture in view of the Supreme Court and High Court orders," he said.
   
The defence counsel referred to the Apex Court's order and cited the High Court order granting bail to Kanimozhi and four others to drive home the point that bail is the rule and the court should consider that an accused is innocent until proven guilty.
   
"You (judge) have to consider what are the charges against those accused who have been granted bail by the Supreme Court and the High Court," Balwa's counsel said. The bail plea of Chandolia was not heard on Tuesday, as CBI said the High Court has drawn a distinction between the accused public servants and private persons and has kept the bail plea of Behura pending.
   
"A distinction has been drawn by the High Court between the public official and the private persons. As of now, it is still pending and I cannot say anything. "It is difficult for us to take any stand. Let the order of the High Court on Behura's bail plea come," Lalit said after the defence counsel sought a clarification from the agency on their stand on Chandolia's plea.
   
The court, however, continued the recording of the statement of a prosecution witness Bharat Amberkar, Assistant Vice President (Accounts and Finance) of Reliance Infrastructure Ltd, which remained inconclusive and would continue on Wednesday.

Behura seeks bail on ground of 'parity'


Former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura, who along with ex-Telecom Minister A Raja and another public servant, is left behind in Tihar jail after 11 others got bail in 2G spectrum allocation case, on Tuesday sought his release in the Delhi High Court on the ground of "parity".
   
"The persons (Sanjay Chandra, Vinod Goenka) concerning alleged beneficiaries of scam (Unitech and Swan Telecom) are out on bail. The bribe (of Rs 200 crore) givers and takers (five persons including Kanimozhi) are also out on bail. I also deserved to be released on the ground of parity and parity alone," advocate Aman Lekhi, appearing for the former bureaucrat, told Justice V K Shali.
  
"They (CBI) have created a category that is called public servants, which is unknown to law. In the trial court, CBI did not oppose the bail plea of five persons charged in the second charge sheet and then it had forgotten this class, that is public servants," he said, adding even section 409 (criminal breach of trust) of IPC is applicable to all and did not limit itself to public servants.
   
"Unlike other politically connected accused, the retired public servant lacked political muscle and financial clout to tamper with evidence. In fact, he is the least influential among the lot," he said.
   
This court has rightly observed that the apex court, which was cognizant of the fact that section 409 was invoked against all accused, granted bail and the ground of parity would be available to all, he said adding "I am relying on My Lords judgement in this very case." At the far end of the hearing when the news of lower court granting bail to Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa came, the defence lawyer rose again to inform Justice Shali that now another man gets out.
   
The court has put the matter for further hearing on December 1.
   
During the arguments, Lekhi said "There is no substantive allegation against him. It is not the case that I received any bribe or took part in any conspiracy. There is no case of disproportionate assets against me. The opposition to my bail plea is contrary to the Supreme Court verdict."
   
In fact, there cannot be any distinction among the accused in the case as the Supreme Court has not dealt with the specific roles of individual accused and on the ground of "parity", everybody should get bail, he said.
   
He said CBI's case included that the cut-off date was manipulated to grant licenses to Swan Telecom and Unitech and Behura had no role in it as he joined after such decisions on the issue were already taken.

Out of 14 accused, 11, including Kanimozhi, Karim Morani, Sanjay Chandra of Unitech and Shaid Usman Balwa of Swan Telecom and three officials of Reliance ADAG have been granted bail by various courts.
 
Three telecom firms Reliance Telecom Ltd, Swan Telecom and Unitech (Tamil Nadu) Wireless Ltd too have been listed as accused in the CBI charge sheet in the case.

(JPN/Agencies)