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CBI seeks daily hearing against 2G case acquittal

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sought day-to-day hearing of its appeals in the Delhi High Court against the acquittal of former telecom minister A Raja and other accused in the 2G spectrum case. It said the Centre was in a “hugely vulnerable position” on account of “claims” being made by entities and individuals on the basis of the acquittals.

In its application last week, CBI said, “Certain persons/entities have initiated/instituted claims and/or are likely to be initiating claims against the central government, which has placed the central government in a hugely vulnerable position at the cost of taxpayers money.”

Thus, it said, appeals challenging acquittal of Raja and co-accused “deserve to be heard on a day-to-day basis and decided expeditiously.”

The agency’s request, however, failed to receive immediate relief from the court, which disposed of the application, listing the appeals for hearing on September 22 and 23. Its order said the CBI counsel demanded “a schedule be fixed for arguments on application for leave to appeal.”

“Though it is stated by counsel for the respondent (accused) that he intends to file a reply to the application filed for early hearing, but in any case, the matter itself is listed today,” the order said.

‘Discriminatory Approach’

“Hence, there is no use to take up the application and the same is disposed of,” the court order said.

Appearing for co-accused Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka, advocate Vijay Aggarwal contended that CBI is adopting a “discriminatory approach” in the 2G cases, “inter se the cases relating to Shyamal Ghosh and Dayanidhi Maran, wherein all accused were discharged by the special court. CBI has challenged the same by way of revision; however, no application for early hearing has been moved in those cases.” Aggarwal said the discharge of Maran and Ghosh happened much earlier (October 2015 and February 2017) than the acquittal of Raja and co-accused.

Referring to those languishing in jails whose appeals have not been listed for years, Aggarwal further contended that the high court is a “constitutional court and is duty bound to treat everyone equally.”

Special Bench

In its application, CBI urged the court to constitute a “special bench” in case it is unable to permit day-to-day hearing of the appeals filed by CBI and the Directorate of Enforcement (ED).

The former argued that the matters have “great public importance, which involve probity in public life and issues of integrity among public officials, having national and international ramifications, (and) early disposal of the leave petitions is in the interest of justice.” The agency’s application said, “It is desirable, in the interest of justice, that arguments on leave to appeal be resumed on a day-to-day basis.” Leave to appeal is a formal permission granted by a court to a party to challenge a decision in a higher court. The lower court had acquitted the accused in the case in December 2017.

CBI said it concluded its arguments on the appeal on January 15, 2020, but the accused could not conclude theirs due to “supervening circumstances arising out of the Covid-19 situation.”

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