Top officials of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) have met Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Ranjit Sinha at least 50 times in 15 months at his official residence – 2, Janpath – here in Delhi. This has put Sinha in a spot as he has already come under scathing attack for allegedly trying to derail the ongoing 2G trial against Reliance Telecom.
dna has access to the visitors’ diary at 2, Janpath. Two names are mentioned incompletely in the diary like Tony, Toni, Toni+Sir, Raman, Setu, Setu Raman and Toni+Setu. These two officials appear to be Tony Jesudasan, considered to be the Man Friday of Anil Ambani, and AN Sethuraman. It’s not known if there are other officials in ADAG with this name, but the cars in which they arrived at Sinha’s residence are registered in the name of ADAG.
If one goes by the diary, it becomes clear the two have been visiting Sinha’s residence almost every week between May 2013 and August 2014. The frequency of their visits increased this year when Sinha moved a proposal to re-investigate the case against Reliance Telecom and Swan Telecom on grounds that some new facts have come to light. Tony and Sethuraman met Sinha 27 times this year so far. The guest list reveals that the duo used to visit Sinha together and separately.
However, Tony denied making any such visits to Sinha’s residence. “It is absolutely incorrect and completely impossible. I have not made any such visits. I am travelling most of the time and cannot make any such visit. Mr Sethuraman works with me and I am sure he will not make any such visit without my knowledge,” Jesudasan, who is currently out of the country, told dna over phone. AN Sethuraman could not be independently contacted for comments.
CBI chief Ranjit Sinha strongly objected to dna’s questions.“How can you ask such questions? I am a public person and people from all levels of society come to meet me. How could you peep into my personal life? With what right have you checked my daily diary? You can print whatever you want.”
As per details recorded in the register, the two ADAG officials made the visit in 10 different cars and a random check of four cars revealed that they have been registered in the name of Reliance ADA Group. For example, Setu had visited in a car – DL4C-NE-7809 -- registered in the name of Reliance Infrastructure Limited, 27-BK Road, Delhi. Similarly, another car in which Tony or Toni frequently came to visit Sinha –DL-2CQ-5868 -- is also registered with Reliance ADA Group, 27-BK Road, New Delhi. The duo also came in some other cars --DL4C-AN-4131 and DL-1CP-6732 -- both registered with Reliance ADA Group, BK Road, New Delhi.
The meetings raise several eyebrows as around the same time in April, the CBI director had informed then special public prosecutor UU Lalit that the agency wants to file a separate reply to the petitions filed by six accused in a 2G case concerning Reliance ADAG even when the CBI had already filed a consolidated combined reply for all six accused.
The letter (RC-DAI-2009-A-0045-8549-50) states that the ‘CBI may prepare separately draft para-wise replies to the petitions filed by the six accused in 2G spectrum case – RC 45(A)/2009 DLI – and if the separate parawise replies are otherwise consistent with the consolidated reply, which has already been filed by the CBI on March 4, 2014, we may at a later stage request the court to allow us to file the same.’
An infuriated Lalit sent back a strong three-page reply stating that ‘the draft sent by the CBI tantamounts to weakening the case.’
In the wake of the developments in the case, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing Centre for Public Interest Litigation, also approached the SC seeking the recusal of Sinha from the 2G case. The crucial hearing on the case is slotted for Tuesday, when the CBI counsel will also present its version and the documents sought by the court.
Earlier in August, a Supreme Court bench had asked CBI counsel KK Venugopal to get all the files and records to verify Bhushan’s submissions in connection the Reliance case in the 2G scam. The agency has reportedly handed over all documents to Venugopal, who will apprise the court on Tuesday. The CBI is also likely to inform the court about the developments in the Tata Unitech probe, concerning the 2G scam.
As of now, during the three-year long trial, 153 prosecution witnesses, including Anil Ambani and Tina Ambani, deposed before the court. Thirty five defence witnesses have also deposed. The rest of the hearing is likely to be completed soon as directed by the court.
The 2G licences and accompanying second-generation or 2G airwaves were given to ineligible companies in 2008 by then telecom minister A Raja. He and 17 other accused are on trial since then. The Comptroller and Auditor General had estimated the loss at Rs 1.76 lakh crore. And (according to Wikipedia), Time magazine had listed the 2G scam at number two on their “Top 10 Abuses of Power” list (just behind the Watergate scandal).