2G Scam | Raja gets bail, DMK voices support3 min read . Updated: 16 May 2012, 12:52 AM IST
2G Scam | Raja gets bail, DMK voices support
New Delhi: After more than a year in jail, former telecom minister A. Raja was granted bail on Tuesday by the lower court that is hearing the 2G scam case.
Judge O.P. Saini, who is hearing the 2G scam case, ordered Raja’s release on the condition that he surrender his passport and post a personal bond and a surety bond of ₹ 20 lakh each. The 49-year-old accused cannot travel to his home state of Tamil Nadu without the court’s prior permission and has also been barred from visiting DoT offices, Saini’s 14-page bail order said. The order also said that Raja should not try to influence any witnesses.
The former minister was arrested on 2 February last year, along with 13 others, including Karunanidhi’s daughter and MP K. Kanimozhi, for his role in the allotment of telecom licences in 2008. Raja and others have been charged with cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy and corruption besides criminal breach of trust that entails a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the scam, said that if Raja was released on bail at this stage, he might tamper with evidence. Raja’s lawyers, however, argued that he was no longer a Union cabinet minister and could not tamper with evidence or influence witnesses. The CBI also opposed bail on the grounds that there was fresh evidence of another ₹ 200 crore changing hands in the case.
DMK chief M. Karunanidhi said that he was happy about Raja getting bail. “He has always been active (in politics) and will continue to remain so," he said. He added that the whole party would support Raja.
The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Raja was only a “small fish" and that the “big fish" are still free. “Raja getting bail does not finish the case. In fact, it only strengthens it," Shahnawaz Hussain, BJP national spokesperson, told reporters. He added that action should be taken against those who are still free in the case.
“It is not a question of Congress being happy or unhappy. We have never intervened in proceedings of a case pending in a court, we do not comment on issues pending before the court. If the court has given bail to Raja, we respect that," Congress party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said.
Tamil Nadu’s ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) pointed to a political motive behind Raja’s bail.
“It is my personal view that as the chief accused with enough prima facie evidence against him, it is unfair and undesirable that he be released on bail," said K. Malaisamy, an AIADMK party member and former Rajya Sabha MP.
“There are political implications to this move as well. It is to be noted that the (Congress-led) United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government (at the centre) is looking for M. Karunanidhi’s support for the presidential race. At a party level, I can say that we are not happy with this move," he said, referring to the forthcoming presidential elections in July.
The 2G scam is one of several corruption scandals that have tarnished the image of UPA, which was re-elected in 2009. Others include alleged financial irregularities in the preparations for the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG).
“The slanging match in the Parliament and the bail being given to Raja indicates that political culpability is being obfuscated," said Jai Mrug, a Mumbai-based political analyst and psephologist. “The UPA needs to worry."
Mrug also said that the UPA runs the risk of strong anti-government mobilization similar to that by social activist Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation last year.
“It will fuel the determination of Anna Hazare’s team to go ahead with their August deadline for the government to order CBI enquiries against cabinet ministers. The lower the government’s credibility, the stronger the determination of civil society," Mrug said.
Amritha Venketakrishnan in Chennai and PTI contributed to this story.
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