New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said it will direct the special court, set up exclusively for trying various 2G spectrum scam accused, including former telecom minister A. Raja, to hold day-to-day trial without any adjournment.
A bench of justices G. S. Singhvi and A. K. Ganguly said it will pass a formal order on this issue on 11 April, when, it indicated, it will also appoint senior advocate U. U. Lalit as a special public prosecutor to assist the court in holding the trial in the spectrum allocation case.
The bench indicated its preference for appointing Lalit as SPP, brushing aside the Centre’s objections to his appointment.
The bench also said it will restrain all other courts from entertaining any application or petition linked to the case and all such pleas will have to be filed in the apex court only.
The court adjourned the matter to 11 April to pass the order after the Centre failed to propose any name for the appointment of the SPP.
The bench also directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate to brief it about their second stage of probe into the scam after the filing of the CBI chargesheet in the case on 2 April in the special court.
Senior advocate K. K. Venugopal, appearing for CBI and ED, submitted that the second charge sheet regarding bribery angle in the scam will be filed before 24 April.
The bench also said that it will pass order giving liberty to the SPP in the case to suggest names of other prosecutors to assist him in the trial.
Government has been at loggerheads with the CBI in the apex court over the agency’s decision to appoint Lalit as special public prosecutor, saying he did not meet the eligibility criteria for the task.
It has raised technical objections to Lalit’s appointment saying that he should have worked under the state or the Union government for at least seven years to be eligible as the case has been filed under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Senior advocate K. K. Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, had submitted that Lalit had been in the lawyer’s panel for the Maharastra government and the Centre for 15 years and five years respectively and he fulfills the criteria.
But the Attorney General G. E. Vahanvati on Thursday had submitted that being in the panel is not sufficient and one should be the government’s standing counsel for seven years.
The court had said that the Act does not mention the word “Standing counsel” and the objection raised was highly technical which should be given “reasonable” interpretation.
Vahanvati had said there were some apprehensions that Lalit’s appointment as the SPP could be challenged at any stage and it may derail the entire prosecution of the case.
The CBI has registered cases against former telecom minister A. Raja and others under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The CBI had on 1 April informed the apex court that Lalit will be appointed as special public prosecutor for assisting the special court, set up for the exclusive trial of the 2G spectrum case.
Venugopal had told the court that the agency had been facing lot of difficulties in finalizing the name of special public prosecutor to lead a team of its prosecutors in assisting the special court for trial of the 2G case as most of the senior counsel have been hired by one or the other party.
Maintaining that in the given circumstances, Lalit was the best choice as CBI’s special public prosecutor, Venugopal had pointed out that he had a vast experience in various criminal laws.
The agency in its first charge sheet alleged that Raja, former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja’s personal secretary R. K. Chandolia, Shahid Usman Balwa and Sanjay Chandra entered into a conspiracy for manipulating the procedure for allocation of spectrum with the aim of favouring companies like Swan Telecom and Unitech Group.
Others named in the charge sheet include Vinod Goenka, a director of Mumbai-based DB Realty, which was also the promoter of Etisalat DB, Sanjay Chandra, managing director of Gurgaon-based real estate company Unitech and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd and Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara, Group managing director and two senior vice presidents of Mumbai-based Reliance Telecom Company.