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Raja gets bail after 15 months in jail

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Andimuthu Raja, former telecom minister and the prime accused in the 2G spectrum scam, was granted bail on Tuesday after 15 months in Tihar jail. Raja was the last accused to get bail in the 2G telecom case, which has drawn the world’s attention over the alleged nexus between several members of the government and businesses for inappropriate and out-of-turn spectrum allocation to companies. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had estimated Rs 1.76 lakh crore as the notional loss caused to the national exchequer from the alleged allocation scam. However, all the accused have denied charges of any wrongdoing.

In a packed court room, CBI judge O P Saini pronounced the bail order at 12:30 pm. Raja’s supporters hailed the decision, cheering and clapping at the judgment. While Raja was immediately surrounded by members of his constituency reaching out to shake hands and congratulate him, there were others who looked visibly moved as the verdict sank in. The DMK leader came out smiling from the court room, where several other party members were waiting to catch a glimpse of him. R K Chandolia, former personal secretary to Raja, was spotted with teary eyes. Chandolia went on to congratulate Raja’s wife warmly.

Raja is the last of the 14 accused in the 2G spectrum scam, billed as one of the most high-profile corruption cases in Indian history, to have got bail. Siddharth Behura, former telecom secretary and an accused, was released on bail a few days ago.

Saini in his order said Raja’s further detention would not serve any purpose and he would have to furnish a personal bond of Rs 20 lakh, with sureties in the like amount. Saini also cited the Supreme Court’s verdict on the bail plea of (Unitech managing director) which stated bail was the rule and committal to jail an exception, while passing a positive order. Saini also referred to the bail order of the former Indian Olympic Association chief and Commonwealth Games scam accused, Suresh Kalmadi, while granting bail to Raja.

The Central Bureau of Investigation had opposed Raja’s bail, saying it was still investigating the issue related to funding of the scam routed through Mauritius-based Delphi Invest-ment. And, that Raja might influence the witnesses, especially those from Tamil Nadu, where Raja resides. The case is at present at the stage of recording evidence. As many as 42 witnesses have recorded their statements so far. Saini said, “This apprehension of the prosecution can be addressed by imposing conditions and restrictions on the accused. Furthere, almost the entire evidence in the case is documentary in nature and the same is in the custody of the court.”

According to legal experts, Raja will be in a much better position to prepare his case from outside jail, and he would be able to have unrestricted conversation with his lawyers. Besides, he is also likely to resume Parliamentary work soon.

First Published: Wed, May 16 2012. 00:56 IST