SC dismisses bail, Kanimozhi to remain in Tihar jail
In a major setback to Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam Member of Parliament Kanimozhi and Kalaignar TV Managing Director Sharad Kumar, the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed their bail pleas in the 2G spectrum case.
A special bench of justices G S Singhvi and B S Chauhan asked the two accused to wait till framing of charges before approaching the special Central Bureau of Investigation court for regular bail. The apex court said the CBI court can thereafter decide their bail pleas uninfluenced by the earlier bail proceedings.
The apex court's decision to reject the bail would mean that Kanimozhi and Kumar will continue to cool their heels in jail till the time the charges are framed.
Reportage: Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Image: DMK MP Kanimozhi
Kanimozhi behind bars for a month
The CBI had opposed Kanimozhi's plea, saying the original documents regarding the illegal financial transaction of Rs 200 crore to DMK family-run Kalaignar TV is yet to be recovered and the accused might tamper with evidence if released on bail.
Kanimozhi has been lodged in Tihar Jail since May 20 after the special trial court rejected her bail plea in the 2G spectrum Scam.
The apex court also asked her to move the trial court under Section 437. which has a provision of providing bail to women under trials
Justice GS Singhvi held a special hearing -- the Supreme Court is currently on its summer break -- to decide the matter. Two judges on Friday recused themselves from the case on the grounds that Justice Singhvi is monitoring the CBI's investigation into the 2G telecom scam and therefore it's appropriate for him to take a decision on Kanimozhi's bail.
Image: The Supreme Court
Kanimozhi lawyers' arguments fail
While opposing her bail plea, the CBI had argued that she conspired with fellow DMK leader A Raja to accept a kickback worth Rs 200 crore in the telecom scam.
Former telecom minister Raja was arrested in February for allegedly masterminding the 1.76 lakh crore scam. He stands accused of selling mobile network licenses and spectrum at a pittance in 2008 to companies that he allegedly colluded with. One of those companies -- Swan Telecom -- allegedly repaid him by routing a Rs 200 crore cheque through a series of companies. The money was allegedly deposited with a TV channel in Chennai co-owned by Kanimozhi.
Her lawyers have argued that Kanimozhi was not an active decision-maker in the financial and other affairs of Kalaignar TV -- a stand the CBI has opposed. Kanimozhi's lawyers argued that she should get bail because she is a woman, and because she needs to look after her young son as her husband works abroad.
Image: Former telecom minister A Raja
Will this affect DMK-Congress ties?
Sharad Kumar, MD of Kalaignar TV who also moved a bail petition challenging the Delhi high court's order, was also denied bail. He is likely to move a fresh bail petition before the apex court.
The 2G scam -- reported to be India's largest-ever swindle price-tagged at 1.76 lakh crores by the comptroller and auditor general -- has seriously undermined the government's credibility and its claims that it is working hard to check corruption.
The spotlight on Kanimozhi has also cast a long shadow over the alliance between the Congress and her father, M Karunanidhi, who heads the DMK.
The DMK has six union ministers and 18 Lok Sabha MPs, making it a heavyweight in the United Progressive Alliance coalition at the Centre which is headed by the Congress.
Image: The logo of Kalaignar TV