Even as Ramalinga Raju has pressed for bail, it appears that the trial of the Satyam scamster will take another two months to come to a conclusion. The prosecution has already completed its arguments. At present, the witnesses presented by it are being examined by the defence.
A total of 228 witnesses were produced by the prosecutors; of them 60 were employees of Satyam. After examination of some of the witnesses, the defence might also like to present its own witnesses.
Raju sought bail on the grounds that the trial had not been concluded by July 31, which the Supreme Court set as the deadline for completion of the trial while canceling Raju’s bail on October 27, 2010.
Whatever the judge may decide, Raju will not get a term of more than seven years’ imprisonment. This is because the senior sub-judge in whose court the case is being heard does not have the powers to sentence an accused for more than seven years.
Raju and his co-accused have been charged under various sections of the IPC like 120 B, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 477A. The co-accused include Raju’s brother Rama Raju and other former employees of Satyam like Vadlamani Srinivasa, D Ramakrishna and others.
After completion of the trial in the case based on the chargesheet filed by the CBI, Raju will have to face trial in another set of cases. Those cases will be based on the chargesheet to be filed by the Enforcement Directorate and will be filed once the CBI case is completed.
While the CBI case pertains to fudging of accounts by Raju and his accomplices and creation of fictitious incomes, the ED chargesheet will be dealing with swindling of money overseas and parking cash abroad. The ED was not able to complete its investigations when the CBI filed its charges – this was because the investigations of the money trail abroad was more time-consuming. However, six months ago the ED was ready to file its chargesheet but was opposed by the CBI. The CBI’s contention was that once the ED chargesheet was filed in the case, its own case would get derailed. After a prolonged wrangling that saw opinions being sought from the Solicitor General of India, the Attorney General of India and the Union law minister, it was decided that the ED would file its case only after the CBI case is concluded.
But, independent legal analysts are not quite happy with this decision. They point out that once the CBI case is heard and a verdict delivered, it will become like the ‘accepted story’ of what happened. This would act as an advantage to Raju and his associates in the money-laundering case of ED.
CBI’s prosecutor K Surender is confident that he would be able to secure Raju’s conviction. “We systematically produced documents and have been able to prove the allegations,” he told TOI. “The case is not based on the confessions that he made in the letter on January 7, 2009, which resulted in the Satyam scam,” he adds. Interestingly, Raju’s lawyers tried to disown the infamous confession letter. Their confession: it was unsigned and sent to the stock exchange not by Raju and one of his secretariat staff. However, in the court Raju did not stand up and declare that he did not write the letter. Nor did he say that he was under pressure to give himself up.
Raju may be now seeking bail but he was chary of seeking one soon after he went behind bars. He did seek bail but his efforts seemed non-serious to analysts. Raju got out of jail and went to the hospital – the NIMS- in the first week of September 2009. This was barely a few days after the then chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy perished in a helicopter crash. Raju was admitted to hospital with heart problems and also because he was suffering from Hepatitis C.
He remained in jail for over a year: he got bail on August 17, 2010, but was released from the hospital nearly a month later. He paid about Rs 8 lakh as the bill that he had totted up in jail. But his bail was cancelled on October 27, 2010, and was given time to turn up in jail after Diwali. Ever since then, he has been at Chanchalguda jail and is brought to the trial court every day.
As per the directive of the Supreme Court, a daily hearing of the case has been going on. Lawyers watching the court proceedings said that the judge might take a month after the arguments are concluded to deliver his judgment. “Since it is expected to conclude by the beginning of October, the judgment may come at the end of that month or early November by present indications,” said a lawyer.
The senior sub-judge hearing the present case does not have powers to sentence an accused for more than seven years. However, Raju will have to face another of set of chargesheets to be filed by the ED after the present case concludes. Legal analysts aver that the verdict in the CBI case may in fact act as an advantage to Raju and the co-accused. TOI