Raja, Kanimozhi challenge pleas for early hearing of 2G appeals

Citing practical challenges posed by the pandemic, former Union telecom minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa on Monday opposed the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate’s pleas to fast-track hearing of appeals challenging the acquittal of individuals and firms in the 2G spectrum case.

They said the agencies have not shown the urgency so far and during the COVID-19 pandemic, courts are following a particular sequence in conducting proceedings giving priority to cases where accused/ convicts are in jail and that pattern should not be disturbed.

The CBI and the ED sought early virtual hearing of their appeals saying that the country’s largest trial, which was conducted at the public exchequer’s cost, be brought to its logical conclusion.

Lawyers representing the trio in the Delhi high court questioned why the CBI and ED had sought out-of-turn hearings despite restrictions forced by Covid-19, including the lack of regular legal assistance and the difficulties in going through voluminous documents pertaining to the case.

Both CBI and ED are pressing for a verdict before the scheduled retirement of the presiding judge, Justice Brijesh Sethi, in November. Advocate Manu Sharma, who had defended Raja during the 2G trial, submitted that a sequence was being followed by the high court, giving priority to cases involving people already in jail. Appeals against acquittals are always kept last in the order of matters, he argued.

Meanwhile, DMK president M K Stalin on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to instruct the ministries concerned not to sanction a detailed project report for Mekedatu reservoir nor for the construction of a dam across the Cauvery river proposed by the Karnataka government.

In his representation, which was handed over to Modi by a delegation of DMK MPs led by its parliamentary party leader T R Baalu, the DMK leader expressed his disappointment over Karnataka chief minister B S Yediyurappa’s request to the PM for early approvals for the project despite strong opposition from Tamil Nadu.