Court accepts video appearance for all four 2G scam accused

Close on the heels of permissions granted to Raja and Swan Telecom Promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, ex-Telecom Secretary Siddharath Behura and Raja's former personal Secretary R K Chandolia too were today allowed by the court of Special CBI Judge O P Saini to appear before it through video conferencing.

The court allowed the duo's plea as the CBI did not oppose it. "The remand proceedings of accused Raja, Behura, Chandolia and Balwa shall be conducted through the facility of video conferencing on March 17, without them having to be brought physically to the court from Tihar Jail," the judge said.

All the accused are presently lodged in Tihar Jail for their alleged involvement in the scam. The court had first allowed Raja's plea on March 1 to be produced before it through video conferencing and then Balwa's yesterday.

The court, which was slated to hear arguments on Behura's pleas for bail and de-freezing of his bank accounts, deferred the hearing after CBI sought some more time to reply to his pleas.

Senior advocate S S Gandhi, appearing for Behura, told the court that as his client's accounts have been frozen by the probe agency, he had to borrow money from others for his wife's treatment. The court will now hear both of Behura's plea on March 18.

Behura and Chandolia were arrested along with Raja on February 2 while Balwa was taken into custody on February 8. While the first three were arrested for allegedly abusing their official positions to manipulate the allocation procedure to favour some telecom companies to grant them licences, Balwa is charged with penal offences of forgery, cheating and criminal conspiracy.

The FIR in the case was filed on October 21, 2009 against unknown officials, besides private persons and companies. Though the CBI has pegged the loss at Rs 22,000 crore based on the calculations made by the CVC, the CAG, in its report, had projected a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore due to the 2G spectrum scam.

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