New Delhi: The five corporate executives accused in the 2G spectrum scam, who were granted bail on Wednesday, walked out of Tihar Jail late in the evening. The executives - Unitech Wireless' former MD Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom's Director Vinod Goenka and Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group's executives Hari Nair, Gautam Doshi and Surendra Pipara - had been in jail for over seven months.
A surety of Rs. 5 lakh is to be given by each of the accused. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) can move the Supreme Court if it feels the bail is misused.
In its decision the court said, "We are conscious of the fact that the accused are charged with economic offences of huge magnitude. We are also conscious of the fact that the offences alleged, if proved, may jeopardise the economy of the country. At the same time, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the investigating agency has already completed the investigation and the chargesheet is already filed. Therefore their presence in the custody may not be necessary for further investigation. We are of the view that the appellants are entitled to the grant of bail pending trial on stringent conditions in order to allay the apprehension expressed by the CBI."
"I most humbly thank Honourable Supreme Court for granting me bail. I am also deeply touched by the support extended to me from all my employees, lawyers , friends and members of the media. I reiterate that I am committed to cooperating in the trial and hope that finally justice will be done, & my innocence proved," said a statement from Mr Sanjay Chandra.
The Supreme Court's decision acted as sentiment booster for the companies these officials represented.
Stocks of DB Realty, Unitech and Reliance Communications were trading higher despite a market crash today. DB Realty has plunged 45 per cent since the arrest of Mr Goenka.
Unitech stocks have tanked nearly 50 per cent since the arrest of Mr Chandra who headed Unitech Wireless when he was arrested seven months ago. RCom stocks have fallen nearly 34 per cent since the arrest of the three executives.
This is the first instance of accused persons being granted bail in the 2G case. On December 1, the Delhi High Court is scheduled to hear the bail pleas of eight other accused, including DMK MP Kanimozhi. They have challenged the Special Court's November 3 order denying them bail. But in the wake of today's order, their lawyers have approached the High Court seeking advancement of their bail plea hearing. (Read: Kanimozhi, five others move court for early bail hearing)
The five corporate executives were arrested on April 20. On November 1, the apex court had reserved its order on their bail pleas. The CBI had opposed their bail.
The five accused had moved the apex court challenging the Delhi High Court and trial court orders turning down their bail pleas. The accused, who have been charged under various offences under the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act, contended that they should be granted bail as the charges have already been framed and there was no chance of them tampering with the evidence.
The verdict was delivered by Justice H L Dattu who had heard their arguments along with CBI's submission opposing their bail pleas.
Other accused in the case include former Telecom Minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi, former Telecom Secretary Siddhartha Behura and Raja's former private secretary R K Chandolia.
Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, his cousin Asif Balwa and their colleague Rajeev Agarwal have also been booked in the case.
Three telecom firms - Reliance Telecom Ltd, Swan Telecom and Unitech (Tamil Nadu) Wireless Ltd - have also been named accused in the case.
All the accused have pleaded that they have not done anything wrong and refuted the charge of drawing illegal benefits in allocation of 2G spectrum.