Former communications minister A Raja, who has been in Tihar jail for the last 15 months, was yesterday granted bail in the 2G spectrum allocation case.
Raja, the last of the 14 individuals charged in the case still in prison, was given bail on a surety of Rs 20 lakh by CBI special judge OP Saini.
“Considering the progress of the trial, period of custody of the accused and the fact that all other accused have been released on bail, I am of the opinion that further detention of the accused would not serve any purpose and, for these reasons, I am inclined to grant applicant bail,” the judge said. However, he directed that Raja could not visit the department of telecommunications (DoT) or Tamil Nadu without the court’s prior permission.
All hail the Raja!
The announcement that Raja was granted bail triggered wild slogan shouting and cheering by his DMK supporters, mainly from Tamil Nadu, who raised slogans in Tamil like, “Raja, vazhga!” (long live Raja!) The DMK also expressed confidence that he would come out clean. “We are happy. Getting bail is part of the legal process. We are confident that Raja will come out clean in the whole episode,” said DMK spokesperson TKS Elangovan. There were also celebrations in Raja’s home town Perambalur.
The court issued its releasing order after DMK MP from Kallakurichi, Adhi Shankar and Rajya Sabha MP Tiruchi Siva furnished Raja’s bail bond.
The court also imposed condition on Raja that he would not directly or indirectly make any inducement threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case. Raja will remain present before the court on all dates fixed for hearing of the case either personally or through his counsel.
Giving details of what had transpired, Raja’s counsel said that the judge called Raja towards him and told him, “Your bail application is allowed.” “Raja had not moved bail until all other 13 were granted bail,” he added. “Now all the accused are on bail. The case will go on.”
The counsel pointed out that Raja had got bail despite the CBI’s opposition. The CBI had opposed Raja’s bail application, saying he faced charges of accepting bribes of Rs 200 crore, which makes his case different from former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, who was granted bail by the Supreme Court last week.
Raja, in his bail application, had requested the court to release him on the ground of parity. The agency told the court that if the accused was released on bail at this crucial stage of trial, then he may influence the vital witnesses as some of them belong to Tamil Nadu.
Bail not end of 2G case, claims BJP
The BJP said that A Raja getting bail is not the end of the case and hinted that Home Minister P Chidambaram could be the next accused in the case.
Talking to reporters, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said, “The king of 2G is roaming free. This bail is not the end,” he said. Hussain accused Chidambaram, who was finance minister at the time of the scam, of involvement too.
“Even the PM has said that whatever decisions were taken, they were taken by finance minister and Raja,” he said. The BJP, which has been alleging Chidambaram’s involvement in the scam, will also seek clarification from government over the home minister’s alleged link with the Aircel-Maxis deal.
‘Raja’s release may dilute the case’
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said the 2G-spectrum allotment scam case seemed to be getting diluted with the bail granted to A Raja. Queried about the bail granted to Raja, she said, “I am hearing about it from you only now. It definitely looks as though it is getting diluted.” When asked about Chidambaram’s role in the Aircel-Maxis deal, Jayalalithaa said, “It is up to Subramanian Swamy to substantiate his allegations, and it is up to Chidambaram to defend himself. In a situation like this, the only hope is the Supreme Court.”