New Delhi: The beloved daughter of one of India’s most prominent political leaders was bundled into Tihar jail on Friday, sending a message that courts will show no leniency in high-profile corruption cases.
The special court trying cases related to alleged fraud in the allotment of 2G spectrum denied bail to Kanimozhi, a member of the Rajya Sabha, and her business partner Sharad Kumar, saying the charges against them were extremely grave and they could influence witnesses.
“I have no hesitation in holding (that) both applicants (Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar) have failed to make out a prima facie case for bail. Bail applications are without merit,” additional sessions judge OP Saini said.
Kanimozhi, 43, was sent to jail exactly a week after her father M Karunanidhi was routed in an election and toppled as chief minister of Tamil Nadu. The Congress said that the arrest will not affect the United Progressive Alliance coalition, in which the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is the third-largest party.
With Friday’s arrests all but one of the 14 accused in the scandal are in jail. They include founders of the DB Group and real estate company Unitech and executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. Karim Morani of Cineyug Films, whose company the CBI says was a conduit for the kickback, has been admitted to a Mumbai hospital. All the accused deny the charges against them.
The CBI will file another charge-sheet, its third, by June-end. That, and another case that the Supreme Court is hearing, will be closely watched to see if some of India’s best-known industrialists will be arrested and put on trial.
Former telecom minister A Raja and two government officials were the first ones to be arrested, on February 2. They are accused of manipulating the 2008 sale of 2G spectrum to benefit a few companies. The national auditor CAG estimates the loss to the government at Rs 1.76 lakh crore, more than the size of India’s defence budget this year. The CBI’s estimate of the loss is a more modest Rs 30,984 crore.
Ram Jethmalani, the lawyer for Kanimozhi, argued that she was not directly connected to Kalaignar TV, the channel in which she and Sharad Kumar own a 20% stake each and her step-mother Dayalu Ammal 60%. The CBI says that the DB Group, which won mobile phone licences when A Raja was the telecom minister, paid Rs 209 crore to Kalaignar TV as kickback for getting the licences.
“My biggest misfortune is that I am Karunanidhi’s daughter and an MP. The CBI says I am the active brain behind Kalaignar TV, but show me one overt act my active brain has done,” Jethmalani said, arguing for Kanimozhi, a former journalist regarded as the inheritor of her script-writer father’s literary legacy.
“Bail is a right. Treat it as a reward for my good conduct, as a reward for my sex, for my motherhood and my clean record as a member of parliament.” But judge Saini was unmoved. Economic Times