New Delhi: Denied bail by a special court in Delhi, K. Kanimozhi was arrested on Friday, providing a fresh setback to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), a week after the party suffered its worst rout in assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.
The party has, however, for the time being decided to retain its place in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre.
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Kanimozhi, a Rajya Sabha member, was denied bail along with Sharad Kumar, managing director of Kalaignar TV, and will be kept in jail No. 6 at Delhi’s Tihar jail. Kanimozhi’s lawyer and DMK party members said judge O.P. Saini’s order will be appealed in the Delhi high court on Monday.
The daughter of DMK patriarch K. Karunanidhi put up a brave front when judge Saini, in a perfunctory manner, told a packed courtroom: “The prayer is dismissed for both.” Karunanidhi also adopted a similar posture, even though he could not conceal his disappointment during a brief interaction with reporters in Chennai.
“I am in a position like any other father who has a daughter and was arrested for no fault of hers,” 87-year-old Karunanidhi said.
On whether Friday’s development will have an impact on future relations with the Congress, he said his party’s general council alone could take a decision. “As and when necessary, its meeting will be convened. I cannot take a decision on my own on this,” he said.
Judge Saini, in a 144-page order, rejected the bail applications, saying: “Considering the magnitude of the crime and the fact that many of the witnesses are employees of Kalaignar TV, there is every apprehension that the witnesses may be influenced if the accused are released on bail.”
“The role of both the accused in the case is clear from the incriminating material on record. The magnitude of the crime is enormous. The allegations on the face of it are very grave. The supporting evidence is also on record,” the judge said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is investigating the alleged corruption in the allocation of second-generation (2G) telecom spectrum licences, named Kanimozhi and Kumar in the supplementary chargesheet for conspiring with former telecom minister A. Raja (also of the DMK) to transfer more than Rs200 crore to Kalaignar TV. CBI claims the money was a bribe paid by Shahid Balwa, a promoter of DB Realty, in exchange for telecom licences to his company, Swan Telecom (now Etisalat DB Teleservices Pvt. Ltd).
Kanimozhi and Kumar each hold a 20% stake in Kalaignar TV, with Dayalu Ammal, Karunanidhi’s second wife and the mother of Union minister M.K. Alagiri and M.K. Stalin, holding the remaining 60% of the television channel.
Saini also rejected the argument by Kanimozhi’s counsel Ram Jethmalani that she should be given bail under section 437 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which allows bail to women, sick people and juvenile offenders.
“Considering the magnitude of the crime and the allegations against her, I am unable to show any consideration to her on this ground, though I wish I could show her some consideration, considering her extremely dignified conduct in the court,” the order said.
Kanimozhi, while being escorted out of the court, looked calm and composed. “It was expected. I am not disappointed,” she said. But her personal bodyguard and female staff, who had come for the hearing, broke down.
Senior DMK leaders, including T.R. Baalu and T.K.S. Elangovan, were present in the court and tried consoling G. Aravindan, Kanimozhi’s Singapore-based husband.
Kumar’s wife too broke down and was consoled by members of the Balwa family who were present in the court.
The DMK now has another problem to deal with, in addition to being ousted from the government in Tamil Nadu and losing a Union cabinet post after Raja was forced to resign last November. Raja, who until recently was a rising Dalit star in Tamil Nadu, was arrested in the 2G case in February.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the development would not affect his party’s ties with the DMK.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition party, sought to use the arrest to politically corner the UPA. “These arrests and actions have been taken in the 2G case as the Supreme Court is monitoring the CBI inquiry. CBI had been investigating the case for 13 months, but there were no results,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters.
On Saturday, the court will pronounce its verdict on the bail pleas of Asif Balwa and Rajiv B. Aggarwal, both directors in Kusegaon Realty Pvt. Ltd, an intermediary company that was used to route the alleged bribe money. They were arrested on 29 March.
PTI contributed to this story.