The long whistle went off at about 3 pm. The game was up. All day, glimmerings of hope had danced around the bail pleas of the five corporate executives charged in the 2G spectrum allocation case.
A battery of lawyers with fierce reputations had been fighting to keep their clients at home at night, and spare them the ignominy of an Indian prison. Central Bureau of Investigations special judge OP Saini set aside all arguments, and dismissed two key defence pleas-for interim bail, and time to move the High Court.
For the five white-collar accused-Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra, DB Realty MD Vinod Goenka , and Reliance Telecom’s Gautam Doshi, Surendar Pippara and Hari Nair-the altogether unfamiliar idea of a prison, now loomed large. After heated arguments, the agents of law now faced the accused. CBI deputy superintendent of police, Rajesh Chahal, identified the five accused to a junior inspector, who then briefed each of them.
The accused must remove all belongings from their person before entering the lock-up in the Patiala House Courts complex, from where, they will be taken to Tihar jail in a prison van. Pippara, nervous and uncomfortable, stood up and struggled to undo his belt. Unitech’s Chandra, who remained a picture of calm through the proceedings, handed over his belt, rings, chains and other belongings to an associate.
All of them tried to make one last phone call. Gautam Doshi, with his wife beside his side, looked stoic. Goenka appeared calm, but his eyes betrayed the disquiet within. As Hari Nair was escorted out of the courtroom, an ET reporter asked him what went through his mind. “Let’s see,” he said, forcing a smile. On the other hand, former telecom minister A Raja was a picture of energy in the courtroom.
Ahead of being escorted back to the prison, he went over to the corner of the courtroom where Chandra sat, leaned over, held his shoulder, and whispered into his ears, as escorting policemen watched. Subsequently, he took aside a young associate of Chandra, and introduced him to the lawyer who is defending the embattled former minister. He asked the young man to take the lawyer’s number and also get in touch with Shahid Balwa’s family lawyer.
It appeared to be an effort to make sure that all the lawyers were speaking with each other. Raja, a successful lawyer in Chennai before his dramatic rise in Dravidian politics, might have identified benefits in formulating a joint legal strategy. Earlier in the day, well-known criminal lawyer Majeed Memon created a flutter in the court when he shouted out from the middle of the courtroom to gain the judge’s attention. “We are unable to even see the face of the learned lordship,” Memon, who came from Mumbai for the case, complained.
“What arrangements are these, we do not even have access to the judge,” he remarked loudly as the courtroom fell silent. As per the judge’s directions, Memon made his way to the front and started pleading for his client, Vinod Goenka. At lunch, the judge had dismissed the bail plea and the defence teams had moved interim bail pleas. Lawyers rushed to move the high court. “The bail plea has been dismissed. We are rushing to the high court ,” lawyer Mahesh Agarwal hurriedly informed Doshi. Economic Times