New Delhi: Former telecom minister A Raja, an accused in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case, on Tuesday evening walked out of the Tihar Jail, hours after being granted bail by the court of special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge O P Saini in New Delhi.
The 49-year-old DMK leader was granted bail on a surety of Rs 25 lakh after spending 15 months in jail.
Raja was the first accused to be arrested in connection with the 2G scam and was the last one to apply and get bail.
However, the DMK leader has been asked by the court to not visit Tamil Nadu without permission. He has also been directed not to visit the office of the Department of Telecom (DoT).
"Considering the progress of the trial, period of custody and the fact that all other accused have been released on bail, I am of the opinion that further detention of the accused will not serve any purpose," Judge OP Saini said in the 14-page bail order. The court also directed Raja, arrested on February, 2011, would not try to influence any witnesses while on bail.
Janata Party President and 2G petitioner Subramanian Swamy said that Raja was entitled to get bail, but he feared for the former telecom minister's life as he was not the mastermind of the scam.
"Raja should get bail according to the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court, but am concerned about his safety. There is a threat to his life. He has got bail but he will soon be behind bars. If the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) botches up, I am there as an independent prosecutor. I will take action," said Swamy after the court's order.
Raja's party welcomed the bail order and hoped that he would prove his innocence. "We are very happy that Raja has been given bail. The party is with him. What is important is what the court says," said DMK leader TR Baalu.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, however, feared that the spectrum allocation scam case was being diluted with all the accused getting bail. "I heard about Raja's bail. The case is definitely getting diluted," said Jayalalithaa.
Judge Saini said that several conditions and restrictions have been imposed on Raja when the told the CBI objected to the bail petition. The court noted that entire evidence in the case was documentary and was in its custody.
"Moreover, this apprehension of the prosecution (that Raja may influence the witnesses and tamper with the evidence) can be addressed by imposing conditions and restrictions on the accused. Furthermore, almost entire evidence in the case is documentary in nature and the same is in the custody of the court," the judge said and directed Raja to surrender his passport as a prerequisite for bail.
Raja, who has remained in judicial custody for over 15 months since his arrest, had sought bail on the ground of parity as other 13 co-accused have already secured bail either from the Supreme Court, the Delhi High Court or the trial court. He has alleged the case against him is "false and fabricated" and "not sustainable in law."
The CBI had vehemently opposed Raja's bail, saying he could not be released on the ground of parity as the charges levelled against him were of serious nature.
The agency has alleged that DMK-run Kalaignar TV had received Rs 200 crore as bribe from Shahid Balwa's DB Group through a circuitous route as a quid pro quo for favours shown by Raja in spectrum allocation.
The agency has also claimed that during the probe, it had come to light that Raja and others had received a bribe of another Rs 200 crore from certain companies under its scanner in connection with the spectrum scam.
The CBI had raised questions on Raja's alleged links with Mauritius-based Delphi Investment Ltd, in which Reliance Telecom Ltd had allegedly transferred its shares and said if released on bail at this stage, he might tamper with evidence.
Raja had sought bail, saying the Supreme Court, while granting bail to former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, had not distinguished the case of public servant from that of others. He had submitted that he and Behura were facing similar charges of abetment, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.
Raja's counsel had submitted that as his client was no longer a Union Cabinet minister, he could not tamper with the evidence or influence the witnesses.
Besides Raja, his private secretary RK Chandolia, Behura, DMK MP Kanimozhi, corporate leaders - Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group's MD Gautam Doshi, ADAG group President Surendra Pipara and Senior Vice President Hari Nair, Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra and Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka - are facing trial in the case.
The court has also put on trial Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar, Director of Cineyug Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd Karim Morani and Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajeev Agarwal.
Besides these 14 persons, three telecom firms - Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd, are also facing trial in the case. Raja and others have been charged for the offences of cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy and corruption besides criminal breach of trust that entails a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
(With Additional Inputs from PTI)