New Delhi, Apr 13: CBI today opposed the bail plea of five corporate honchos, who appeared as accused after being named in the chargesheet in the 2G spectrum scam case, in a Delhi court saying that from being "suspects" they have become "accused".
"The status of a person changes in law after filing of the chargesheet. They are not entitled to release on bail ipso facto (by default) on appearance before the court. From being suspects, they have now become accused and hence, will have to justify their bail plea," senior advocate U U Lalit, who has been appointed as a special prosecutor by the Supreme Court, said.
"There are nearly 180 prosecution witnesses and some of them are under political perception of threat," Lalit said and gave some classified documents to CBI Judge O P Saini who has been appointed to hear exclusively the 2G case on day-to-day basis.
After defence lawyers sought a copy of the document, Lalit said "it is not for you. I may use them in our reply."
The plea drew sharp reactions from defence lawyers, including senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi, K T S Tulsi and Ranjit Kumar who said in fact it is CBI which will have to justify the arrest in the backdrop of the fact that the accused were not arrested during the investigation.
Top corporate leaders Swan Telecom Director Vinod Goenka, Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd Managing Director Sanjay Chandra, and three top officials of Reliance ADA Group Gautam Doshi, Surrendra Pipara and Hari Nair appeared in the packed courtroom alongwith a battery of lawyers. They were not arrested in the case.
Within minutes of commencement of hearing, Rohatgi, appearing for Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom, moved the bail application saying "the accused is entitled to release on bail."
"The chargesheet has already been filed, cognizance taken. If an accused is not arrested during the investigation, then there is no question of his arrest subsequently," Rohatgi said.
"What is the apprehension of CBI? I have appeared before it during the investigation and now I am before the court and there is no precedent that the accused is denied bail after being summoned in such a case," he said.
The maximum sentence in such cases is seven years and the prosecutor has made an argument as if it is a heinous offence, Rohatgi said, adding "cite a case where bail is denied to an accused who is summoned after filing of the chargesheet in such cases".
"The prosecutor has made a topsy turvy argument. The court could have issued a warrant but the summons were issued," he said. PTI