2G scam: Raja, Balwa sent to CBI custody till Feb 14 (Second Lead)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

NEW DELHI - Former communications minister A. Raja and Shahid Usman Balwa, managing director of DB Realty, were both remanded to four days CBI custody by a court here Thursday to enable the probe agency quiz them face to face to “unearth the conspiracy” in the 2G spectrum scam.

For Raja, it was the third time he was remanded to Central Bureau of Investigation custody since he was produced before the court Feb 2. Balwa was arrested Tuesday night.

According to the CBI, Balwa’s company Swan Telecom (a part of the Mumbai-based DB Realty) allegedly got favours in the spectrum allocation and caused the national exchequer a loss of over Rs.22,000 crore.

CBI special judge O.P. Saini, said: “Accused Balwa is alleged to be a major beneficiary of the illegal acts of co-accused (Raja) in the grants of Unified Access Service (UAS) licenses.”

“I find merit in the submission of the investigating agency seeking grant for four days CBI custody of both accused. Prayer is allowed. Both accused are remanded in police custody till Feb 14, considering the serious nature and facts of the case, further recovery of documents, need for further confrontation of the accused with each other and documents as well as their consequent sustained custodial interrogation.”

According to Saini, the CBI said both Raja and Balwa are required to be confronted with each other as well as with various documents to unearth the entire conspiracy.

“The case of prosecution is that the illegal acts of the accused persons caused huge pecuniary losses to the government to the tune Rs.22,000 crore,” he said.

While seeking the custody of Raja and Balwa, CBI prosecutor Akhilesh submitted before the court that Raja has favoured Balwa in the grant of UAS liscences.

“Balwa has been evasive during investigation, therefore as we have to confront Balwa with Raja we need their custody,” said CBI.

“The case is quite complex and the documents are large in number and spread over different offices and location. Some documents are also to be traced on their information,” said CBI.

Meanwhile, counsel for Balwa, Vijay Aggarwal opposed the CBI plea strongly saying that his arrest “is totally illegal and a violation of law as he had joined the investigation on 7 events and even attended CBI office on 27 different dates.”

“Balwa is being unfairly targeted as there are seven more operators, who have got licences but they have neither been interrogated nor arrested. The loss alleged to have been suffered by the state exchequer is imaginary and there is no definite information about the exact loss,’ said Aggarwal. He added: “My client has already given written answers to CBI running into 26 pages, therefore I have nothing to tell the CBI.”

However, the court rejected Aggarwal’s plea saying that Balwa was only arrested after he failed to attend the investigation after serving of three notices and “the need was felt for his custodial interrogation and as such, there is nothing illegal in his arrest”.

Saini also declined the request of Senior advocate Ramesh Gupta for Raja who has opposed the CBI for further 4 days remand of Raja.

“In cases like this, effective interrogation of a suspect person is of tremendous advantage in disinterring any useful information and also materials which would have been concealed. Success in such interrogation would elude if the suspect person knows that he is well protected and insulated by a pre-arrest bail order during the time he is interrogated,” said the court.

Raja was sent to two days CBI custody Feb 8 while Balwa was brought to Delhi Wednesday evening by a CBI team after a Mumbai court granted the agency his two-day transit remand.

He was arrested in Mumbai late Tuesday by a CBI squad.

This is for the first time that CBI is directly accusing Raja of complicity in the 2G scam after it had filed an FIR against unknown officials and private persons and companies on Oct 21, 2009.

On Feb 8, Raja, former telecom secretary Siddarth Behura and Raja’s former personal secretary R.K. Chandolia, were sent to 14 days judicial custody. They were arrested Feb 2 over the allocation of airwaves for second generation phone services that the probe agency said caused a loss of Rs.22,000 crore to the national exchequer

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