Raja's lawyer demands court to call Chidambaram as a witness

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Old 27-Sep-2011
Raja's lawyer demands court to call Chidambaram as a witness

New Delhi: Former telecom minister A. Raja's lawyer yesterday told a local court that Home Minister P. Chidambaram was part of all decisions taken in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

Sushil Kumar, representing Raja, demanded that the court call Chidambaram, whose role in the case is being questioned, as a witness.

"I am not calling Chidambaram an accused but he knew everything. He was acquainted with all facts and circumstances of the case," Kumar said.

Kumar said it was strange that only his client was in jail when all decisions regarding 2G spectrum allocation were taken by the Union Cabinet.

Raja has been in jail since February after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) named him as the prime accused in the case.

Raja's lawyer asserted that there was no difference of opinion between his client and Chidambaram, adding that the allocation was a Cabinet decision and that the entire Cabinet must be made to face the trial.

"It was a decision taken by [the] 2003 Cabinet and followed by all subsequent Cabinets. Why is only my client in jail? Call Chidambaram as a witness under Section 311 and let him accept or deny whether he gave the advice in presence of the Prime Minister or not, and then let the court decide if it wants to call the PM," said Kumar.

Chidambaram was the finance minister when the scam estimated to be worth Rs1.76 trillion (Dh127.8 billion) took place.

A finance ministry note which stated that Chidambaram could have stopped the scam and forced its spectrum auction, which was sold to telecom operators at throw-away prices, has put question marks over Chidambaram's continuance as a federal minister.

CBI sources, however, say that they have not found any evidence of criminality against Chidambaram during the course of their investigation. Both the government and the party have taken stand that since the matter is sub-judice, they won't not issue any statement. The situation is expected to become clearer once Prime Minister Manmohan Singh returns from his US visit tonight.

The CBI, meanwhile, moved a fresh petition in the court of Special Judge O.P. Saini seeking permission to frame fresh charges of criminal breach of trust by Raja and two of his close aides, the then telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura and personal assistant R.K. Chandolia.

If charges under criminal breach of trust are filed and the accused are found guilty by the court, the quantum of punishment would go up from seven years to minimum of 10 years with the maximum penalty being a life sentence.

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