CBI told to explain conduct in 2G case

Defence counsel cries foul, alleges tampering of evidence by probe agency

The notice came a day after senior Reliance official and prosecution witness A N Sethuraman alleged that he had protested about the contents of his statement recorded by the CBI and despite that it was not changed.

The CBI has been asked to file its response by November 23.
Special CBI Judge O P Saini issued directions to the CBI after all the fourteen individuals accused in the case - including former telecom minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi, signed the application moved by advocate Majid Menon to prevent the “unhealthy practice” of calling witnesses unauthorisedly and suspiciously by CBI and “tampering with the evidence”.

Sethuraman had also revealed on Wednesday that a CBI official had called him to its headquarters on November 9, two days before he was to appear as a witness before the court on November 11, and asked to stick to his statement before the court.

When Sethuraman protested to some of the contents in the statement, he was told that it was too late now.

The revelations from Reliance Group President (ADA) Sethuraman had come on Wednesday evening while being cross-examined by Menon on behalf of Vinod Goenka, Director Swan Telecom (P) Ltd.

In his application moved on Thursday, Menon has alleged that calling Sethuraman to the CBI headquarters “was interference with the trial”.

“It has transpired in the cross-examination of Sethuraman that shortly before giving of evidence, the witness (Sethuraman) was suspiciously and unauthorisedly invited to the CBI office by a CBI officer and was given his statement under Section 161 CrPC to be read for the first time. This is impermissible in law. If the law permits refreshing of memory of the witness, there is a settled established legal method for such an exercise. What has surfaced in evidence of Sethuraman is alarming and amounts to attempt to tamper with the witness,” the application said.

Memon in his application also urged the court to take necessary action to abort such unhealthy practice in the best interest of justice and fair trial.

He also sought a direction to the service provider company to preserve the call details of the mobile being used by Sethuraman and the telephone number from which he had received the call with regards to coming at CBI office.

Three accused — R K Chandolia, former private secretary of then telecom minister A Raja, Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa and Director Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa — on Thursday moved an application seeking alteration of charges framed against them.

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