Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's wife Dayalu Ammal will have to appear as a prosecution witness in the 2G spectrum allocation case, a Delhi court today said.
The court dismissed two applications filed by 82-year-old Ammal seeking exemption from personal appearance as a witness and to dispense with her presence in the case citing her ailing health condition.
Special CBI Judge O P Saini said Ammal is an "important witness" as she was a director in Kalaignar TV Pvt Ltd in which an alleged bribe amount of Rs 200 crore was received.
The order assumes significance as Karunanidhi's daughter and DMK MP Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar, Managing Director of the TV channel, is facing trial in the case along with former Telecom Minister A Raja, DB Realty Ltd MD Vinod Goenka and others.
"Moreover, the witness (Dayalu Ammal) is an important witness as she was a director in a company (Kalaignar TV) with 60 per cent stake in which alleged bribe amount of Rs 200 crore was received.
"Without speaking much on this aspect, I may add that this fact makes her an important witness in the case and in view of the facts and circumstances of the case, she can neither be exempted from appearance as a witness in the court nor dropped from the array of witnesses nor can she be ordered to be examined on commission given medical condition as indicated by record," the judge said and summoned her for July 8 to depose as a witness in the case.
CBI, in its charge sheet, has discussed the routing of over Rs 200 crore illegal gratification from M/S Dynamix Realty to Kalaignar TV Pvt Ltd through M/S Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd and Cineyug Films Pvt Ltd.
In its first charge sheet filed on April 2, 2011, CBI had said the money had travelled through a "circuitous route" through Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd, a DB group company and Cineyug Films Pvt Ltd, to Kalaignar TV in which Dayalu Ammal, Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar were having 60, 20 and 20 per cent shares respectively.
Ammal in her two applications had submitted that she was diagnosed with cognitive and behavioural abnormalities from June last year and she is progressively and gradually losing recognition of even her near and dear ones.
Her lawyer had told the court that due to her physical and mental condition, she is having "abrasive behaviour, clumsy habit with sudden hitting or punching people, inappropriate talk and action and unable to take care of the day-to-day activities".
Her lawyer had said all her medical documents and records from June last year till date show that Ammal is not in a fit condition both physically and mentally to come to the court to depose as a witness.
CBI had opposed her plea seeking exemption to appear as a witness in the case but had supported her submission that she may be examined physically and mentally by a medical board and expert doctors.
The court dismissed her plea saying her medical record does not indicate that she is "mentally or physically incapacitated to such an extent or that she has lost her mental cognitive power that she cannot understand questions and give rational replies".
"It is quite normal to suffer from such age related problems at such a senior age," the judge said.
Ammal was not named as an accused in the case by CBI which had said that due to her advanced age and "non-understanding" of any language other than Tamil, she was only fulfilling the legal requirements of Kalaignar TV Pvt Ltd in which she is one of the Directors.
CBI had said Ammal had delegated her power to Sharad Kumar to run the company's affairs.
"She (Dayalu Ammal) categorically informed that in view of her old age and deteriorating health, she cannot be expected to give any attention to the company's affairs and requested Sharad Kumar to exercise degree of skill which may reasonably be expected of a person of his age, knowledge, experience, calibre and status," the charge sheet had said.
Besides Raja, Kanimozhi, Sharad Kumar and Goenka, former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja's erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, Unitech Limited MD Sanjay Chandra, three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG)- Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair- are facing trial in the case.
Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal and Bollywood producer Karim Morani are also accused in the case.
Besides these 14 accused persons, three telecom firms - Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd (STPL), Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd - are facing trial.
During arguments on the plea, Ammal's lawyer had said she is suffering from "senile related problems of Alzheimer's disease" and needs assistance for activities of daily living.
She had also sought constitution of a medical board to assess her medical condition as to whether she is fit to appear before court.
CBI had told the court that considering her mental and physical condition, the agency has no objection if she is ordered to be medically examined to assess her condition.
However, advocates Majid Memon and Vijay Aggarwal, who appeared for some of the accused in the case, had said that dropping Ammal from the array of witnesses would cause "injustice and inconvenience" to their defence.
The court, after hearing the arguments, said it found her physical and mental condition to be normal as per her age.
"In view of the facts and case law cited above, no case for examining the applicant (Dayalu Ammal) on commission is made out as her examination is necessary in the case...no case of her examination by a team of doctors is also made out.
"Consequently, she cannot be exempted from appearance in court as a witness," the judge said adding, "I do not find any merit in both the applications and the same are dismissed."
It also said as Ammal is aged and is suffering from age related diseases, "no inconvenience would be caused to her and her dignity would be maintained" during her deposition.