Telecom Lead India: The stage is set for Reliance Communications chief Anil Ambani and his wife Tina Ambani to appear before a court in the 2G spectrum scam.
PTI on Thursday reported that a Delhi court issued notices to all accused in the 2G spectrum case seeking their response on July 3.
Delhi court’s notice was based on a plea by the investigating agency CBI seeking to call 17 more prosecution witnesses including Anil Ambani and his wife Tina Ambani.
The CBI’s plea to call Anil Ambani as a witness assumes importance as three top Reliance ADAG executives — Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair — are accused in the case and were granted bail after spending nearly seven months in jail.
2G case: CBI keen to grill Reliance Communications’ Anil Ambani
Corporate lobbyist Niira Radia’s statement that she believed that Swan Telecom was owned by Anil Ambani’s Reliance ADA Group assumes importance in this context. The telecom industry also believes that Tata Teleservices, a client serviced by Niira Radia, could not get the spectrum as there was open support to Swan Telecom by authorities.
Since top head honchos are involved in most decision making – financial and strategically matters – at telecom companies, their inputs are the most in demand for CBI.
“During several occasions, CBI was afraid to grill promoters of telecom operators. India’s regulations are not stringent enough to stop wrong practices in the system. That’s why several companies are paying penalty in thousands of crores and not facing criminal cases,” said a top official with the telecom department.
Besides Anil and Tina Ambani, the CBI is seeking to call other witnesses including a former advisor to the TRAI, some bank officials and other CFSL experts.
Special CBI Judge O P Saini issued notices after Special Public Prosecutor U U Lalit told the court that their testimonies are required to be recorded to arrive at the truth.
“Issue notices to the accused persons for July 3,” the judge said, adding that he would decide on July 3 as to whether it would seek a reply from the accused on a separate CBI plea seeking to recall Department of Telecommunications (DoT) official Nitin Jain as a witness in the case.
During the hearing, Lalit told the court that these witnesses are required to be called for recording of their statements to ascertain the truth.
He told the court that some documents regarding transaction of money have been received from the banks and these witnesses are required to be examined in that context.
Seeking to call Anil Ambani as a witness in the case, Lalit said that being the head of Reliance ADAG, his testimony is required regarding transaction of money between his various alleged companies.
“Unless and until we have this part (about money transaction) coming from the top, I do not think the task will be complete,” the prosecutor said.
Lalit told the court that the CBI had recorded Anil Ambani’s statement under section 161 of the CrPC during the probe into the case but it was not placed before the court earlier as the Reliance ADAG chairman was not arrayed as a prosecution witness in the case.
He sought the court’s permission to place Ambani’s statement before it today itself but the judge said that he will deal with the issue after going through the reply filed by the accused.
The CBI also moved an application seeking to recall prosecution witness Nitin Jain, whose statement has already been recorded saying that there appears to be slight inconsistency in his testimony regarding the cut off date.