The 2G-spectrum trial entered its second day on Monday with Public Prosecutor Advocate A K Singh putting up a myriad of questions to Reliance Group President A N Sethuraman in a bid to establish a link between the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group and Swan Telecom.
The trial began with the public prosecutor showing to the day's main witness Sethuraman a series of applications and documents he had signed to obtain UAS licenses.
To each application, Sethuraman diligently identified his signatures and acknowledged that a 'scanned copy of power of attorney (which was shown to him in court today) issued by M/s Swan telecom (P) Limited in favour of Bharat B Anand and him, bears his signatures.'
Sethuraman further stated that the power of attorney was issued in his favour for fifteen circles, namely Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh (West), Uttar Pradesh (East), Delhi, Mumbai, Assam and North East.
He said in his statement to the court, "I had submitted applications for fifteen circles for UAS Licenses on behalf of M/s Swan Telecom (P) Limited in March 2007."
A slight argument cropped up when Senior Advocate H H Ponda, advocate for former Reliance Telecom executive Gautam Doshi, objected to exhibiting photocopies of original documents to Sethuraman for identification. He stated the documents is 'not an original document signed by the executant and is hit by Section 65-B of the Evidence Act.'
However, Justice O P Saini who said that the photocopies had been 'prepared by mechanical process and is signed by the witness himself' overruled this argument.
The process of putting up one application after another before Sethuraman for identification continued for the major part of the hearing on Monday.
In his defence, Sethuraman said, "Applications were first placed before me for signatures and later on banker's cheques were got prepared from the concerned bank and were filed along with each application, though such details are not mentioned in all fifteen applications/ list of annexures (that were shown in the court on Monday)."
He acknowledged his signatures on a letter-dated March 6, 2007 addressed to the Department of Telecommunications for 'withdrawal of applications for Assam and North-East telecom circles.' He added that these applications were withdrawn on the instructions of Anand Bhatt.
Perhaps, the high point of the trial hearing on Monday occurred when Sethuraman volunteered to tell why he signed the applications for obtaining UAS licenses. He said, "I am on the payroll of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group Private Limited. I signed these applications in the capacity of authorize signatory of M/s Swan Telecom (P) limited."
"I signed these applications on the telephonic instructions of Anand Bhatt, who introduced himself as one of the directors of M/s Swan Telecom (P) Limited. I received this call at the time of signing of application for J&K circle. I received similar call for other circles. He also asked me to keep everything ready, that is, all the applications."
According to Sethuraman's statement in court, fifteen applications for the fifteen-telecom circles were ready in his office by 2nd March 2007. After having the applications ready, Sethuraman claims to have contacted Anand Bhatt for 'further instructions.'
"He told me to hold on for a couple of days as certain formalities were to be completed."
"Anand Bhatt called me again on 5th march 2007 and told me to go ahead and submit the applications. He did not tell me about completing the formalities with any party. He simply told me that formalities are over and asked me to go ahead and to file the applications," Sethuraman said.
His examination in court would continue tomorrow as well. Also, Rajender Singhi, GM (Commercial) of Reliance Communication is expected to be examined in the court on Tuesday.