Apex court grants bail to 5 corporate executives in 2G case

Arun S. New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on November 23, 2011

(from left) Corporate executives Mr Vinod Goenka, Mr Gautam Doshi, Mr Sanjay Chandra and Mr Surendra Pipara (file photo)


The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to five top corporate executives accused in the 2G spectrum case. The five accused include Unitech Wireless Managing Director Mr Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom Director and DB Realty MD Mr Vinod Goenka, and Reliance-Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group's (R-ADAG) Mr Gautam Doshi, Mr Hari Nair and Mr Surendra Pipara.

A bench comprising Justices Mr G S Singhvi and Mr H L Dattu said, “We are of the view that the accused are entitled to the grant of bail pending trial on stringent conditions in order to allay the apprehension expressed by CBI.”

Stringent conditions

These conditions were that: each accused should execute a bond with two solvent sureties, each of Rs 5 lakhs; not make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts or the case; be present in the court during the hearing (take the court’s permission to be absent); not dispute their identity as the accused; and surrender their passport. The apex court also gave liberty to the CBI to apply for recalling the bail order if the accused violate any of the conditions.

The court said it was “conscious of the fact that the offences alleged, if proved, may jeopardize the economy of the country.” But it added that, “We do not see any good reason to detain the accused in custody, that too, after the completion of the investigation and filing of the charge-sheet.”

Though the alleged offence is serious in terms of alleged loss to the exchequer, that, by itself, should not deter it from granting bail to the accused “when there is no serious contention of the CBI that the accused, if released on bail, would interfere with the trial or tamper with evidence,” it said.

The court added, “The trial may take considerable time and it looks to us that the accused, who are in jail, have to remain in jail longer than the period of detention, had they been convicted. It is not in the interest of justice that accused should be in jail for an indefinite period.”

The court noted that besides the seriousness of the offence, the two main factors while considering grant of bail in non-bailable offence are the likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice and his tampering with the prosecution witnesses. It said, “Though, this aspect is dealt by the (Delhi) High Court, in our view, the same is not convincing.”

'Bail rule, jail exception'

Observing that its earlier orders had stated that bail is the rule and committal to jail an exception, the court said, “It is also observed that refusal of bail is a restriction on the personal liberty of the individual guaranteed under the Constitution.”

“The primary purposes of bail in a criminal case are to relieve the accused of imprisonment, to relieve the State of the burden of keeping him, pending the trial, and at the same time, to keep the accused constructively in the custody of the Court. Right to bail is not to be denied merely because of the sentiments of the community against the accused,” it said.

The accused were represented by leading lawyers such as Mr Ram Jethmalani, Mr Soli Sorabjee, Mr Mukul Rohtagi and Mr Ashok Desai. While the CBI claimed that there is an apprehension that the accused could tamper with the evidence if released on bail, the accused denied it.

Though the CBI, represented by Additional Solicitor General Mr Haren Raval, said that there was no change in circumstances to take a different view on bail, the apex court rejected it saying since the charges have been framed and the trial started, one cannot conclude that there is no change in circumstances.

The apex court said, “The courts owe more than verbal respect to the principle that punishment begins after conviction, and that every man is deemed to be innocent until duly tried and duly found guilty. From the earliest times, it was appreciated that detention in custody pending completion of trial could be a cause of great hardship.”

Stocks jump

Soon after the order, in trading at the Bombay Stock Exchange, telecom company Reliance Communications (an R-ADAG firm) jumped as much as 6.9 per cent, while real estate players DB Realty and Unitech rose as high as 20 per cent and 10.6 per cent respectively.

The bail to the five accused has given hope to the other accused in the case including former Telecom Minister Mr A Raja and DMK MP Ms Kanimozhi, who have in Tihar jail for over six months.

' Early hearing'

Enthused by the apex court order, Ms Kanimozhi and five other accused -- including Kalaignar TV Managing Director, Mr Sharad Kumar, Director of Cineyug Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd, Mr Karim Morani, Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables, Mr Asif Balwa and Mr Rajiv Agarwal and former Telecom Secretary Mr Siddharth Behura – sought an early hearing of their bail plea in the Delhi High Court.

The High Court was to hear on December one the bail plea of these accused barring Mr Behura. Earlier, the Delhi High Court and the Special Court had turned down the bail plea of the five corporate executives. They then moved the apex court for bail.

'Ruckus in court'

Meanwhile, after the apex court bail order, the elation among relatives of the accused and the following hubbub at the Special Court resulted in the Special Judge Mr O P Saini asking the family members of the accused to go out of the court room.

“The family members, relatives and other outsiders created a ruckus in the court and they were repeatedly asked not to do so. But they persisted with the same and ultimately they were directed to be sent outside the court room,” Mr Saini noted.

Published on November 23, 2011
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