Raja to depose from jail via video-conferencing (Second Lead)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

NEW DELHI - Former communications minister A. Raja was Tuesday exempted from going to court from Tihar Jail for hearings in the 2G spectrum scam. He will attend the trial through video-conferencing.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special judge O.P. Saini said proceedings shall be conducted through video-conferencing from the prison Thursday.

“A copy of this order be sent to jail superintendent as well as officer incharge, video-conferencing, Patiala House courts, for making necessary arrangements for further extension of judicial custody of Raja on March 3 at about 3 p.m. through video-conferencing,” the court said.

The former minister Monday moved an application in court seeking the conduct of court proceedings from Tihar Jail.

Raja’s counsel Ramesh Gupta cited threats to the DMK leader to make the request. He added that the facility of video linkage was available both in Patiala House district courts as well as in Tihar Jail.

He said Raja faced threat from other prisoners who travel with him to the court in the jail van.

“His remand is required to be extended further on that date (Thursday),” said Gupta, adding that after an accused is sent to judicial custody it is his right to avail video-conferencing facility to attend court.

The disgraced DMK leader was arrested here Feb 2 by the CBI for his role in the controversial allocation of spectrum for second generation (2G) telecom services, three months after he was forced to resign as communications minister.

According to the probe agency, the allocation of airwaves resulted in a loss of at least Rs.22,000 crore to the exchequer. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India had pegged the notional loss at Rs.1.76 lakh crore, a figure the government had contested.

The CBI accused Raja and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura of lapses and favouring Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd during the spectrum allocation.

Raja is in judicial custody along with Swam Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa and Behura. The former minister’s personal secretary R.K. Chandolia is also in judicial custody in connection with the scam.

Behura and Chandolia were arrested Feb 2 while Balwa was taken into custody Feb 8.

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