Court Wants Law MinistryReport on Swan Not Reliance Associate

New Delhi, Sep 19 (IANS): The special court trying the second generation (2G) spectrum allotment case Monday agreed to the defence request and asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to furnish a copy of the law minister's report that says Swan Telecom was not an associate of Reliance Telecom.

"It is ordered CBI would place a copy of a report received by it from the Ministry of Law and Justice through the Department of Telecom (DOT) on record on the next date of hearing," Judge O.P. Saini, who is presiding over the special court said.

Arguments on the report will be heard Sep 21.

The CBI had alleged Swan Telecom was an associate firm of Reliance Telecom, and was so created to circumvent the then guidelines for issue of telecom licences that debarred existing telecom players in the CDMA segment from venturing into the GSM segment.

"Reliance Telecom passed on the control of Swan Telecom to Shahid Usman Balwa after the Department of Telecom allowed it to avail the facilities of dual technology," the probe agency had said earlier.

The law ministry, in its opinion, had reportedly that Swan Telecom was not an associate of Reliance Telecom. Accordingly, the defence counsels had wanted to bring it on record to buttress their arguments.

During the arguments, special public prosecutor U.U. Lalit said that CBI would not like place the opinion on the record, but the court could summon the same. "The agency has no objection, but the court will have to pass an order," added prosecutor A.K. Singh.

Counsel for all the accused vehemently submitted that the law ministry's report had an important purpose in so far as defining the word associate was concerned, as also as what was contained in Clause 8 of the guidelines issued Dec 14, 2005.

"If the report, which is in public domain, and a copy of which has been received by the CBI is not placed on record, the accused would suffer grave prejudice," said one counsel on behalf of the defendants.

The accused from the corporate sector include Swan Telecom's Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Wireless' Sanjay Chandra, and Reliance Group's managing director Gautam Doshi, group president Surendra Pipara and senior vice president Hari Nayar.

"The case is still in initial stages of arguments. The instant case is a case of grave magnitude with unimaginable allegations of corruption. It is trite to remark justice should not only be done but should also seen to be done," Judge Saini said.

"The report is largely legalistic in nature, clarifying a law point. The prosecution is unlikely to suffer any prejudice by its production. In the interest of fairness of trail and transparency, I deem it proper a copy of the said report be placed on record."

Earlier, the CBI had dismissed the reports of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and the law ministry, saying their views were unsolicited. But the defence said the probe agency was frustrated as the reports did not support their line.

The court also postponed its order on framing of charges against the seventeen accused in the case, including former telecom minister A. Raja, DMK's Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi and three companies -- Unitech Wireless, Swan Telecom and Reliance Telecom.

The court had reserved its order on framing of the charges till Sep 15 but deferred its order again after several of the accused demanded the probe agency to place the covering letter of the regulatory authority in the court.

Other accused in the case include former telecom secretary Siddharth Bahura, Kalaignar TV's managing director Sharad Kumar, Bollywood filmmaker Karim Morani, Raja's former personal secretary R.K. Chandolia.


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Title: Court Wants Law MinistryReport on Swan Not Reliance Associate

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