The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought CBI's response on a plea of 2G scam accused seeking quashing of the charges against them as the trial in the case, also involving former telecom minister A Raja and top corporate executives, has almost reached the final stage.
The accused contended that they cannot be held liable for the three-year delay in challenging the framing of charges in view of the completion of recording of 152 witnesses by the trial court as their plea in the Delhi High Court was stayed due to the order of the apex court.
A bench of justices H L Dattu and K S Radhakrishnan also issued notice to Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), the NGO on whose PIL the CBI probe was ordered and 122 2G spectrum licences were cancelled on February 2, 2012 by the apex court.
The bench asked all the parties including the Centre and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to file counter affidavits on the petitions of the accused within six weeks.
All the accused contended that immediately after the charges were framed against them on October 22, 2011, they had moved the high court which had issued notice to CBI which challenged their plea in the apex court.
They said that the apex court finally decided that the appeal arising out of the trial court order can only be heard by it and dismissed on September 3, 2013, their plea seeking to recall its two orders barring the high court from hearing the matters arising out of the 2G spectrum scam.
Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi, former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja's erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra, three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG) -- Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair -- are facing trial in the case.
Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV Director Sharad Kumar and Bollywood producer Karim Morani are also accused in the case.
Besides the 14 accused, telecom firms Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd (STPL), Reliance Telecom Ltd and Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd are also facing trial in the case. They have been arrayed as accused in the first two CBI charge sheets filed on April 2 and 25, 2011 respectively.
The bench did not take up for hearing the issue involving Bharti CMD Sunil Mittal and Essar group promoter Ravi Ruia, who have been made as accused by the trial court in the additional 2G spectrum allocation case. Their names were not mentioned in the charge sheet filed by CBI on December 2012.
The proceedings against them have been stayed by the apex court.
At the outset, the bench was informed that the recording of the evidence of prosecution witnesses in the 2G case have been completed and the trial court is schedule to record the statement of accused under section 313 of Code of Criminal Procedure on March 3.
CBI counsel K K Venugopal said despite knowing that there was clear order of the apex court that no other court will entertain 2G matter, the accused went to the high court.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, Mukul Rohatgi and other lawyers submitted that the right of the accused to challenge the charges cannot be taken away.