Hyderabad / New Delhi: Satyam Computer Services Ltd founder B. Ramalinga Raju, the main accused in India’s biggest case of corporate fraud, won bail from the Supreme Court on Friday after spending two years and eight months in Hyderabad’s Chanchalguda central jail in two separate spells.

Release on the cards: A file photo of B. Ramalinga Raju in Hyderabad.

“On the facts of the case and considering the totality of circumstances, including that the accused has undergone the actual sentence of two years and eight months, we deem it fit to release him on bail," judges Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak Misra said in their ruling.

They also granted bail to B. Rama Raju, Raju’s brother and former managing director of Hyderabad-based Satyam, and former chief financial officer Vadlamani Srinivas on personal bonds of Rs2 lakh each and two like sureties.

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Ramalinga Raju was arrested after confessing in January 2009 to misstating accounts to the tune of Rs7,136 crore over a period of several years. His confession, which he later retracted, plunged Satyam into a crisis, triggering an employee exodus and client defections from the company then ranked India’s fourth biggest computer services provider.

Bought by Tech Mahindra Ltd at an auction overseen by government-appointed directors and rebranded Mahindra Satyam, the firm is still struggling towards full recovery.

Raju, who also spent four months in hospital for treatment of a heart ailment during his judicial custody, and the others sought bail on the ground that the trial had not been completed in a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Hyderbad by the 31 July deadline set by the Supreme Court when it cancelled their bail last year. CBI opposedb ail on the ground that the accused may tamper with evidence and influence the course of the trial.Judges Bhandari and Misra warned that CBI could approach the Supreme Court to cancel bail in the event of any attempt by Raju and the other accused to influence the trial in any manner, directly or indirectly.

Ten people have been charged in the Satyam fraud case. Seven of them have already got bail.

Raju’s counsel Bharat Kumar said he will be released from prison on Saturday or Monday. “It’s going to take some time, as we have some formalities to be completed," he said.

CBI has completed its case presentation by producing 226 witnesses. Cross-examination of the witnesses by the defence is under way, said K. Surender, CBI prosecutor. “The trial will go on as usual," Surender said. The Supreme Court asked the special court in Hyderabad to quickly complete the trial of the case.

One lawyer, Ashish Bhakta, said he hadn’t studied the Supreme Court’s order, but the grant of bail had come as a surprise. “I don’t see the circumstance of the case has changed much, as the trial is still on," said Bhakta, a partner at Mumbai-based Advaya Legal.


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