New Delhi: A specially designated court framed all charges lodged by investigators against the 14 accused and three companies in the 2G (second-generation) spectrum allocation case on Saturday, paving the way for India’s largest ever corporate criminal trial.
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Also See | 2G case ( Full coverage )
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The accused include former telecom minister A. Raja and his aides, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Rajya Sabha MP K. Kanimozhi and billionaire businessmen Shahid Balwa of DB Realty and Unitech’s Sanjay Chandra.
K. Kanimozhi. (File photo)
They are still in the process of deciding whether to plead not guilty to all the charges. Defence lawyers took exception to special judge O.P. Saini assuming that each of them would plead not guilty to all the charges. Some of the accused may choose to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for a lighter sentence.
The charges include criminal conspiracy, illegal gratification of public officials, misuse of public office, cheating, forgery and criminal breach of trust. Some accused face more charges than others.
Raja and former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura have the additional charge of criminal breach of trust, for which they could face a life term if convicted. Balwa, Rajeev Agarwal, Vinod Goenka, Asif Balwa, Kalaignar TV’s Sharad Kumar and Karim Morani are facing the charges related to forgery for allegedly fabricating material and using this in court proceedings.
The bail pleas of all the accused will be heard on Monday. This is regular bail being applied for as part of the criminal trial process. The court had earlier rejected bail prior to the charges being framed.
This is crucial for all the accused who have spent nearly seven months in jail. This will also indicate whether judge Saini’s attitude towards the accused as far bail is concerned has changed or not. He has previously expressed his reluctance to grant bail due to the magnitude of the case.
The Central Bureau of Investigation is not opposing Kanimozhi’s bail plea.
The trial itself will commence on 11 November with witnesses being called by the prosecution to testify before the court.