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Corporate Jul 29, 2013

CBI making Ambani witness to cover up lacunae on 2G case: Reliance

New Delhi: Reliance Telecom Ltd today assailed in the Supreme Court the order of the special court allowing CBI plea to make Anil Ambani and his wife Tina as witnesses in 2G spectrum case saying it was aimed at "covering the lacunae" of the agency which has been "groping in dark".

Reliance Telecom Ltd, one of the three companies named as accused in the case, contended that the trial court wrongly exercised its power allowing CBI plea to make Ambani couple along with 11 others witnesses in the case which would prejudice the case of accused.

"There is nothing to discover from Anil Ambani. He has already given his statement (to CBI) under section 161 of Code of Criminal Procedure on February 16, 2011. The reason for filing the application (by CBI) is to camouflage its own lacunae.

Anil Ambani. Reuters

Anil Ambani. Reuters

"It (CBI) is groping in dark and fishing for something. It is nothing but to cover up its lacunae," RTL's counsel and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi submitted before a bench of justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan.

Rohatgi made it clear that the petition challenging the July 19 order of the trial court on the issue was not filed by Ambani but by the RTL as it was passed on the misconceived application of the CBI at the fag end of the trial when 140 witnesses have been examined.

He also questioned the reasoning of the trial court that the order summoning fresh set of witnesses was in sequence to the order of November 19, 2012 when the CBI's plea for placing additional documents relating some banks was allowed.

The senior advocate assailed this order saying "when prosecution has been unable to prove its case after
examination of 140 witnesses it should be the funeral of the case".

He submitted that the trial court judge should not give "helping hand" to the CBI for its shoddy job as section 311 of the CrPC under which the agency's plea was allowed "is not a handle to help prosecution" more so when the whole trial procedure has gone for toss.

At the outset, Rohatgi also raised objection over the apex court's April 11, 2011 order barring Delhi High Court or any other court from entertaining the appeal against the special CBI court's order.

He agreed to the suggestion that he will file a separate application contending that the apex court order takes away the constitutional right of the accused.

Rohatgi got a support on the issue by senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who was appearing for other accused challenging the trial court order making fresh set of witnesses. Jethmalani said the order was coming in way of fair trial which the accused deserve.

He said the April 11, 2011 order, which also deals with appointment of public prosecutor in the case, was causing "serious problem" as "the public prosecutor behaves like a "demi-god".

"By this order, you have taken away our right under Article 226 of the Constitution," he submitted, adding that while the accused plea has been pending in the apex court, the trial court has been proceeding with the case making their plea infructuous.

Rohatgi also said that the trial should be stayed but the court posted the matter for further hearing on Thursday.

The trial court had on July 19 allowed CBI's plea to make Anil Ambani and Tina Ambani as prosecution witness in the case as their testimonies may throw light on alleged investment of over Rs 990 crore by his group companies in Swan Telecom, facing trial in the case along with its promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka.

It had said CBI's plea to summon Ambani, his wife and 11 others as prosecution witnesses was essential for arriving at a just decision in the case.

The trial court has also issued summons to Anil Ambani and Tina Ambani to appear as prosecution witnesses before it on August 22 and 23 respectively.

PTI


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