New Delhi, Sep 10 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Thursday asked former telecom minister A Raja and others to respond to the CBI and ED pleas seeking early hearing of their appeals challenging the acquittal of individuals and firms in the 2G spectrum allocation scam cases.
Justice Brijesh Sethi issued notices to all the respondents -- individuals and firms -- asking them to file replies and listed the matter for hearing on September 21.
The two investigative agencies have sought early hearing of the appeals which were listed for hearing on October 12.
CBI has also sought advancing the hearing of the appeal challenging the acquittal of Essar Group promoters Ravi Kant Ruia and Anshuman Ruia and six others in a separate case arising out of the 2G scam probe.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, representing the ED and the CBI, said it will be in public interest that the country’s largest trial which was conducted at the public exchequer’s cost be brought to its logical conclusion and the agencies' leave to appeal be heard at the earliest. Leave to appeal is a formal permission granted by a court to a party to appeal a decision to a higher court.
He submitted that he had completed his arguments on behalf of CBI on January 15, but thereafter, the matter could not be heard due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jain along with advocates Amit Mahajan and N K Matta added that as Justice Sethi will demit the office on November 30, the appeal be heard and decided expeditiously as if the part-heard matter, which has consumed a lot of judicial time, will be heard afresh by another bench it will cost too much to the public exchequer.
Meanwhile, the court reserved its order on two separate pleas by two firms, which were acquitted in the 2G scam related money laundering case, seeking release of their properties attached by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, representing the two firms, said they were ready to execute an indemnity bond of the value of the properties as a surety and if the appeal by ED is allowed against the acquittal, it will deposit the amount with the agency as equivalent to the properties’ value.
Jain opposed the pleas saying the high court is yet to decide the ‘leave to appeal’ applications of the agencies and till the time they are not decided, hearing an interim plea is “abuse of process of law”.
He said the court can keep the firms’ applications in abeyance till the time it decides the plea for granting leave to appeal and added that the theory of indemnity bond was completely alien to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
A special court had on December 21, 2017 acquitted Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and others in CBI and ED cases related to the scam.
It had acquitted 17 others, including DMK supremo M Karunanidhi's wife Dayalu Ammal, Vinod Goenka, Asif Balwa, film producer Karim Morani, P Amirtham and Sharad Kumar, Director of Kalaignar TV in the ED case.
On the same day, the trial court had also acquitted former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja's erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra and three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG) -- Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair, in the CBI's 2G case.
Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka and directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal were also acquitted in the CBI case.
On March 19 2018, the ED had approached the high court challenging the special court's order acquitting all the accused.
A day later, the CBI too had challenged in the high court the acquittal of the accused in the case. PTI SKV HMP SA