Swan, Unitech, RCom top officials in judicial custody after court rejects bail pleas in 2G case
Moneylife Digital Team 20 April 2011

Swan Telecom director Vinod Goenka, Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) managing director Sanjay Chandra, and three top officials of Reliance ADAG Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair taken to Tihar Jail after Special Court concurs with CBI that they could hinder the smooth progress of investigations

A special court today denied bail to five corporate executives named in the case involving the allocation of second generation (2G) telecom spectrum during the tenure of former communications minister A Raja.

Judge OP Saini dismissed the bail petitions of Vinod Goenka, director, Swan Telecom, Sanjay Chandra, managing director, Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu), and Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara, all three officials of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhani Ambani Group.

The five officials were taken to Tihar jail following the court decision in the afternoon. It was reported later in the day that their lawyers have petitioned the Delhi High Court seeking bail and that these petitions were likely to be taken up on Thursday.

They had all been named by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as co-accused along with Mr Raja, his personal assistant RK Chandolia, former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa, who are already in judicial custody.

They are charged with manipulating the grant of telecom licences and radio airwaves in 2007-08 that, according to the chief government auditor, could have caused the state exchequer a presumptive loss in revenues of Rs1.76 lakh crore.

"All the bail applications have been rejected," judge Saini said. Subsequent to the rejection of the bail pleas, the five executives even petitioned the court for interim bail for seven days, which was also turned down.
"The accused will be sent to jail," a CBI official said. A lawyer for the investigative agency said the executives would remain in jail until a higher court granted them bail.

The shares of the telecom firms slipped following the court order. Shares in Unitech fell 5%, DB Realty fell 4.2% and Reliance Communications was down 2% while the main stock index closed up 1.84% and an otherwise positive trading day.

The court did not allow the bail plea of Surendra Pipara, even though he is said to be ailing and the Special Public Prosecutor UU Lalit did not oppose the application. In fact, the judge had reserved his order after hearing the arguments of all sides on Friday and asked the company officials to remain present during the proceedings today.

On Friday, pleading before the court to take the five executives into custody, Mr Lalit said, "Considering the matter on record, complicity of the accused in the crime is clearly made out. The act complained of and offences alleged are serious, having made deep inroads in public interest and financial affairs of the state."

"The accused are holding high positions and now that the names of witnesses are disclosed, some of whom are directly working under/or amenable to their directions, the possibility of winning over and/or influencing the witnesses is clearly there," the prosecutor said, while opposing the bail petitions. The CBI also feared that the accused may abscond and that may hinder the smooth progress of the trial.

Senior advocates KTS Tulsi, Mukul Rohatgi and Ranjit Kumar, arguing for the corporate executives, had said that the arrest of the accused was not required during the probe and sending them to jail now would amount to a "travesty of justice" and was an "astounding proposition" of law.

Meanwhile, Norway's Telenor said today that it has requested Sanjay Chandra, the chairman of its India joint venture, to step down from his post, following the charges against him in the telecom licensing scandal. Telenor, which owns a controlling stake in Unitech Wireless, said in a statement that it had asked Unitech to name a replacement for Mr Chandra for as long as the 2G case is going on in India.

Mr Chandra is managing director of Unitech Ltd, which is Telenor's partner in the India mobile joint venture Unitech Wireless.

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