Asked by Centre to file appeal in 2G case, CBI tells Delhi HC

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that the trial court verdict in the 2G spectrum scam case, which acquitted all the accused persons, was challenged following an opinion from the Central government that it is a “fit case” for appeal.
Narendra Modi

New Delhi: Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain shared a document to this effect with the single judge bench of Justice Brijesh Sethi, saying the CBI was asked to file an appeal by way of this notification. He also shared the documents relating to the appointment of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, advocate S. Bhandari and himself as Special Public Prosecutors (SPPs) for the CBI in proceedings relating to the case.

Jain also apprised the bench that a contempt plea was also filed before the apex court challenging the appointment of the Solicitor General but it had held that as the trial in the case had already concluded, there was no need for the top court to assign SPPs.

The submissions came in response to the petition filed by accused Asif Balwa, who was acquitted by the trial court, raising questions on the appearance of Jain on behalf of the CBI in the case.

Balwa had filed a plea, through advocate Vijay Aggarwal, seeking a copy of the direction by the Central government, granting the CBI sanction to appeal against acquittal of the accused.

Aggarwal had argued that the appeal has been filed under the signature of advocate Sanjeev Bhandari under the stamp of a SPP, while in the 2G cases, the SPP is appointed by way of a specific notification.

He apprised the bench that earlier a notification was issued for the trial but this was superseded and a fresh notification was issued in February 2018 by which Solicitor General Tushar Mehta was to act as the SPP.

It was further argued that keeping in view the same notification, the appeal filed by the CBI itself was without any authority and that the agency ought to clarify the same before the court. Aggarwal also contended that the entire appeal will fail in absence of the said mandatory approval under Section 378 (2) of the CrPC.

Countering Aggarwal’s submissions, the ASG argued that the particular aspect regarding the authority “is merely in the nature of housekeeping” and can be produced before the court in a sealed cover, if so required.

Aggarwal, however, strongly opposed the submissions regarding the sealed cover and said that the issue of authority goes to the root of the matter and is a jurisdictional issue.

“When a law or statue requires a thing to be done in a particular manner, it should be done in that manner only,” he said. His arguments were also supported by senior advocates Siddharth Luthra and N. Hariharan appearing for other parties, After hearing the arguments of all the sides, Justice Sethi said: “I need that clarification.”

Jain then sought time till Wednesday to seek instructions on the issue of sanction.

Meanwhile, the court also allowed accused Sanjay Chandra to meet his lawyers to prepare for the ongoing hearing, and directed the Tihar Jail Superintendent to arrange for his one hour video conferencing with lawyers thrice a week.

Last week, the high court had directed that it will hear on day to day basis, the appeals filed by the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI against the acquittal of the accused in the 2G case.

The scam came to light almost seven years ago when the Comptroller and Auditor General, in a report, held then Telecom Minister A. Raja responsible for causing the state exchequer a loss of Rs 1,76,379 crore by allocating 2G spectrum licenses at throwaway prices.

However, the trial court found that the prosecution failed to prove the charges. This verdict, however, doesn’t override the Supreme Court judgement that the licenses issued during 2G spectrum allocation were illegal.

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