Will A Raja finally get bail today? After 15 months in jail, the former Telecom Minister's fate will be decided today by the Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court trying the 2G case. This is the first time since his arrest in February 2011 that Mr Raja has applied for bail. Within hours of the Supreme Court granting bail to former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura last week, Mr Raja's lawyers moved the trial court for bail. Mr Raja is one of the three public servants charged in the 2G spectrum scam, and the only accused in the case who is still behind bars.
Mr Raja's lawyers have argued that he must be granted bail on grounds of parity as all the other 13 accused in the case are already out on bail. They say Mr Raja is innocent, the case against him false and fabricated and unsustainable in law and that he's likely to be acquitted. They've also argued that Mr Raja cannot tamper with evidence as all the necessary evidence is already in the CBI's possession. They say Mr Raja has been in judicial custody for the longest time and he has been the most cooperative among all the accused.
The CBI, which has described Mr Raja as the mastermind of the 2G spectrum scam, has opposed his bail plea. The probe agency says that recent investigation has thrown up new evidence linking him to more bribe money and the argument of parity doesn't hold in his case as the other accused have not been charged with accepting a bribe. The CBI also says that many crucial witnesses hail from the former minister's state of Tamil Nadu and he may therefore try to influence them and tamper with evidence.
Mr Raja has been charged with criminal breach of trust by a public servant, cheating, criminal conspiracy, forgery and accepting a bribe. If found guilty, he faces a sentence of up to life imprisonment.
Along with Mr Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi, former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura and some of the country's top telecom bosses - UNITECH promoter Sanjay Chandra, Swan and DB Realty promoters Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka, top executives of Reliance - Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair, Surendra Pipara - Promoter of Cineyug Films Karim Morani among the big names - have been charged with conspiring and manipulating the allocation of 2G spectrum and licences, in 2008, at throwaway prices, thereby causing a massive loss to the exchequer. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pegged the loss at Rs 1.76 lakh crore, a figure that has been contested by many.