In a setback to Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam member of Parliament Kanimozhi and seven others, a Delhi court on Thursday dismissed their bail pleas in the 2G spectrum allocation case.
Special Judge O P Saini dismissed the bail pleas, including that of former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, saying the charges levelled against them were of "very serious nature."
The others whose bail petitions were dismissed were former telecom minister A Raja's erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar, Kusegaon Fruits & Vegetables directors Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal and Bollywood filmmaker Karim Morani.
"The facts of the case as well as the charges leveled against the accused are of very serious nature having grave implications for the economy of the country," the court said. "I am satisfied that no case for bail is made out for any of the applicants accused," it said.
While dismissing the bail application of Kanimozhi, daughter of former Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi, the court said, "By no stretch of imagination she can be said to be suffering from any discrimination on ground of being a woman."
Brushing aside Kanimozhi's plea for bail under Section 437 of the Criminal Procedure Code on grounds of being a woman, the court said, "Accused Kanimozhi Karunanithi belongs to upper echelons of society and is also a Member of Parliament. By no stretch of imagination, she can be said to be suffering from any discrimination on the ground of being a woman."
Special Judge Saini dismissed her bail application, along with those of four others -- Sharad Kumar, Morani, Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal -- even though the Central Bureau of Investigation had no objection to their release on the ground that they face trial for offences, entailing a maximum jail term of only five years, if convicted.
The court rejected CBI's stand saying, "There is no distinction between the accused charged on the basis of main chargesheet and supplementary charge sheet. There is only one chargesheet in the eyes of law."
The court also dismissed the pleas of various accused for bail on the ground that they had been languishing in jail for over five to nine months, while the trial was unlikely to conclude in near future. "It is repeatedly submitted that these reasons make out good ground for bail to the accused. I have bestowed my careful and anxious consideration to these submissions. In the facts and circumstances of a particular case, these factors may be relevant consideration but in some cases it may not be so," Saini said.
The court said after framing of charges under "a more serious" section of 409 IPC (criminal breach of trust) which carries life imprisonment as maximum punishment, "there is no favourable change in the case of the accused."
Rejecting the bail petitions of various 2G case accused, the court said after framing of charges, the legal situation for them has only worsened.
"I find that after framing of charges, the case has crystallised against the accused persons in clear terms, though prime facie and as such, it has moved to a higher pedestal that is, from the stage of suspicion or grave suspicion, it has reached the higher stage of prima facie acceptability," the judge said.
"Further more, a more serious section of 409 IPC has been added which is punishable with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment of either description from a term which may extend to ten years," he added.
Elaborating upon the legalities as to why CBI's willingness for bail to five accused, charged with offences carrying up to five years in jail, cannot be accepted, the court said they have been charged with offences of abetment and conspiracy, which carry as much punishment as the main offence.
"Criminal conspiracy is an independent offence and is required to be punished separately. Sections 109 (abetment) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) IPC do not make any distinction between abettors, conspirators and actual participants in a criminal transaction. As such, I do not find any ground to distinguish the case of these five applicants/accused from the case of remaining accused," the court said.
"Even otherwise, all 17 accused, including the five applicants, have been charged with section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 468 (forgery), 471 (faking documents), 193 (tendering false evidence in court) of IPC read with Section 7 or in the alternative Sections 11, 12 and 13(2) read with 13(1)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act," he said.