2G case: A Raja refuses to respond to CBI plea on fresh charge

2G case: A Raja refuses to respond to CBI plea on fresh charge

Special CBI Judge O P Saini, who was to receive replies of 17 accused including Raja on the plea of CBI, was taken aback when senior advocate Sushil Kumar, appearing for the DMK leader, said he would not participate in hearings till CBI clarified its position on the status of probe.

"I am taking a very clear stand that till the time CBI files an affidavit or says it on oath here that investigation is complete or going on, I am not going to participate in the proceedings of this case," Kumar said.

The lawyer of Raja, who is in judicial custody in Tihar jail, was agitated over alleged "contradictory" stands taken by CBI. On one hand, CBI told the Supreme Court that it was still probing the roles of various persons, including industrialist Anil Ambani, and on the other hand, it said to the trial judge that charges should be framed as the investigation was over, he said.

"I do not want any time. Give time to others. I am not filing any reply. I am not going to argue till CBI DIG S K Palsania and its Superintendent of Police Vivek Priyadarshi are called here to clarify the position," he said.

The judge reacted to Kumar's statement, saying "Please do not make any comment on the Supreme Court here." Special Prosecutor U U Lalit tried to clarify CBI's stand and said he did not represent it in the Supreme Court.

"I am not there in the SC. I am appearing for CBI in this case only in this court. I will stand by the statement made by the prosecutor that so far as the present charge sheet is concerned, probe is complete," Lalit said.

Initially, advocate Ramesh Gupta, who also represents Raja, had sought time along with other defence lawyers for filing replies to CBI's plea that all 17 accused be also charged under section 409 (criminal breach of trust) of the IPC which provides life imprisonment as the maximum sentence.

The defence lawyers had sought ten days time for filing their replies which was allowed by the Special CBI Judge, who fixed the matter for hearing on October 7.

However, Sushil Kumar, who is representing Raja, intervened and took a different stand by refusing to file the reply on the ground that CBI has been taking contradictory stands before the Supreme Court and the trial court.

"Call these two CBI officers, Palsania and Priyadarshi, in the court and ask them why did they give the statement here that probe is complete," Kumar said, adding that he will not appear and "the court may pass any order".

The court then asked Raja's other lawyers to clarify their stands as to whether they would file the reply or go by the statement of Sushil Kumar.

One of the lawyers replied, "Kumar is leading us." Contesting the statement of Kumar, Lalit said the trial judge cannot take cognisance of the statements of CBI made before the Supreme Court.

The apex court can take cognisance of CBI's statements, made before the lower court and hence, the defence lawyer should raise such issues before the Supreme Court and not here, he said.

"So, whatever agitation is to be shown, it should be shown in the apex court and not here. Let them (defence counsel) go to the Supreme Court and make submissions there," Lalit said.

The defence lawyer then asked the trial judge to note his and the prosecutor's statements in the daily order.

The counsel for Raja said he would approach the Supreme Court for seeking clarification from CBI on the issue.

"I will go to the Supreme Court on behalf of this submission. I have to annexe today's daily order with my application in the Supreme Court," he said.

Meanwhile, the judge "reluctantly" granted seven days time to the accused to file replies to CBI's application.

"The proceedings of the case are required to be conducted on a day-to-day basis as per the order of the Supreme Court. However, considering the nature of the submissions made at the bar and the complicated facts of the case, prayer for adjournment is allowed with extreme reluctance," he said.

Earlier, Raja and 13 others accused told the court to separately deal with CBI's fresh plea to enable them to seek bail in the case.

The accused had cited constitutional provisions and a Supreme Court order in the case that the bail applications could be entertained only after the trial court frames charges.

Raja, along with his private secretary R K Chandolia, and former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura are in jail since their arrest on February 2, this year in the case. Rest of the 11 accused were arrested subsequently.

The agency has sought framing of additional charge of criminal breach of trust against Raja and others. The penal provisions under which the accused have been charged so far provided for seven years jail term as the maximum sentence if found guilty.

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