New Delhi: In their bid to defend K. Kanimozhi, a member of Parliament and daughter of Tamil Nadu chief minister K. Karunanidhi, her legal team implicitly implicated former telecom minister A. Raja for alleged wrongdoings in the allocation of second-generation (2G) telecom licences.
Her team also implicated Kalaignar TV managing director Sharad Kumar and DB Realty Ltd promoter Shahid Balwa in the case.
Kanimozhi’s lawyer, Ram Jethmalani, pleaded her innocence while moving a bail application before special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge O.P. Saini on Friday. The court will hear CBI’s counsel and decide on the bail plea on Saturday.
“If there is one person in this against whom there is nothing, it is this woman. She has nothing to do with (the 2G scam) whatsoever,” he argued. “It is Raja and Balwa’s conspiracy... If a DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) minister has made some payment to this company (Kalaignar TV), I (Kanimozhi) have played no part.”
It is not clear whether Karunanidhi’s DMK is signalling that it is willing to politically sacrifice Raja or if it is merely a part of the legal defence to extricate Kanimozhi.
Eleven DMK parliamentarians turned up in court in support of Kanimozhi, unlike when Raja was produced before the court.
“Let us not assume anything until the arguments are over,” said Tiruchi Siva, a DMK member in the Rajya Sabha. “We should not make inferences from the arguments of a counsel in a court.”
Saying Kanimozhi was only a shareholder in Kalaignar TV, and not even a majority shareholder, Jethmalani said: “Executive power of company is vested in (the) board of directors, not shareholders... Sharad Kumar was the director and chief executive officer; he attended and chaired all board meetings of the company, signed all documents.”
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi declined comment. However, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress general secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu, said: “Our (Congress-DMK) relationship is very good, very strong, and it will continue.”
CBI has alleged in its chargesheet that Kanimozhi conspired with Raja to transfer more than Rs 200 crore to Kalaignar TV. The money is suspected to be a part of kickbacks allegedly paid by Balwa, a promoter of DB Realty, in lieu of spectrum licence to Swan Telecom.
DB Realty owns stake in Etisalat DB, formerly known as Swan Telecom. Kanimozhi and Kumar each hold a 20% stake in Kalaignar TV, and Karunanidhi’s second wife, Dayalu Ammal, has a 60% share.
Altaf Ahmad, who appeared for Kumar, sought to distance his client from the transaction.
“Sharad Kumar has not taken any decision on his own. He is just a signatory authority. All the decisions were taken by the board members,” he said. “I don’t see even a single word in this chargesheet that points to Kalaignar TV and its corporate liability; it’s not an accused... It’s not our burden at this stage to establish our innocence. All that we have to do is instil confidence in the court that we will appear for trial.”
The other accused, Asif Balwa, a cousin of Shahid Balwa, and Rajiv B. Aggarwal, claimed that the Rs 200 crore transferred to Kalaignar TV was not a bribe.
“It was an investment made by Cineyug Media and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd in Kalaignar TV. The money was later refunded to Cineyug with interest,” said Vijay Aggarwal, the lawyer representing the Balwas and Aggarwal.
CBI has claimed that DB Realty paid around Rs 200 crore to Kalaignar TV through Kusegaon Realty Pvt. Ltd and Cineyug. Asif Balwa and Aggarwal, directors of Kusegaon Realty, were arrested on 29 March.
Another accused, Karim Morani, a director of Cineyug, got a day’s exemption after he reported sick; his lawyer has already moved an anticipatory bail application. The court will hear his plea on Tuesday.
Raja’s lawyer Ramesh Gupta declined comment. “I was not present in the court, so I don’t know anything,” he said.
PTI contributed to this story.