The Delhi High Court Monday rejected the bail pleas of five telecom honchos - Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom, Sanjay Chandra of Unitech Wireless and Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group's Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara - in the 2G spectrum scam case. The highlights of the court order are:
This is an offence of the highest magnitude, which not only impacts the society at large but also puts a question mark on the governance in the country which can adversely affect the economy.
The fact that the charge sheet against the petitioners has been filed and there is no allegation that the petitioners tried to influence the witnesses during investigation, cannot be a guarantee that during the trial the petitioners would not try to interfere with the process of justice.
It cannot be ignored that during investigation the petitioners could not have known the identity of the witnesses examined. The situation has changed after the filing of charge sheet. Petitioners are now aware of the identity of the witnesses and incriminating statements made by them during investigation. Given the magnitude of the offence and the role played by the petitioners in the scam, there is a reasonable likelihood of the petitioners influencing the witnesses, particularly those employed in companies controlled by them.
The factual matrix detailing the role played by respective petitioners, prima facie, shows the complicity of the petitioners in the conspiracy to obtain wrongful gain to them or their companies represented by them by abuse of their office and official position by the public servants, namely, the minister of communications and information technology, his private secretary and secretary (telecom) in the matter pertaining to issue of unified access service (UAS) licences and 2G spectrum by arbitrarily changing the existing policy of first come first served.
Charge sheet also, prima facie, discloses that in furtherance of conspiracy Swan Telecom Pvt. Ltd. in which petitioner accused Vinod Goenka had substantial financial stakes and Unitech Group of companies in which petitioner accused Sanjay Chandra has substantial stakes, managed to get UAS licences for their respective companies which they otherwise could not have got under the policy of first come first served and, in the process, they reaped huge financial gains running into thousands of crores of rupees by selling the equity of their companies at huge premium. The charge sheet discloses complicity of all the petitioners in the offence complained of which is of extreme gravity involving thousands of crores of rupees, which itself is sufficient to deny bail to the petitioners at the initial stage when further investigation under Section 173(8) Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is under progress and the trial is still to commence.
The offences against body or property generally affect one or few victims, but the economic offences involving exploitation of public offices have a potential to impact the society at large. When a loss is caused to the state exchequer, every citizen suffers because the money could have been used for the development of the country or for public welfare measures like food, health and education.
The petitioners have been shown to be prima facie involved in a criminal conspiracy resulting in a financial loss to the tune of around Rs.30,000 crore and corresponding gains to their companies running into thousands of crores of rupees.
The gravity of the offence itself is sufficient to deny bail to the petitioners.
From the record, it is evident that despite of having collected prima facie evidence of involvement of petitioners in deep rooted conspiracy involving corrupt practice by the public servants to cause huge wrongful gains to the favoured companies of the petitioners running into thousands of crores of rupees, neither of the petitioners were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation nor they were taken into custody and produced before the court along with the charge sheet as envisaged under Section 170 CrPC.