Former Telecom Minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and eight other accused in a 2G scam-related money laundering case were today granted bail by a special court which said that considering their conduct, there was "no likelihood" that they will commit such offence again.
Special CBI judge O P Saini also noted in his order that the accused have given an explanation regarding the transfer of Rs 200 crore to DMK-run Kalaignar TV from DB group company, which according to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) was a bribe paid in return of grant of 2G licences to Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd.
"The accused have an explanation, which is not absurd, far fetched or imaginary, particularly in view of the fact that the amount of Rs 200 crore is not tainted by itself as its sources are known at both ends, though the same may ultimately turn out to be false," the judge said.
"In the end, I find that guilt of accused, as reflected from the material on record and viewed in the light of their explanation, does not stand in the way of grant of bail to them, subject to the caveat that it is not a finding of guilt or innocence," the court said in its 164-page order granting bail to the nine accused.
Meanwhile, the court passed a separate order granting bail to DMK supremo M Karunanidhi's wife Dayalu Ammal, who has also been chargesheeted as an accused along with others in the case in which ED had alleged that Rs 200 crore transaction was "not genuine" and it was a "bribe for grant of telecom licences to DB Group companies".
While granting bail to 83-year-old Dayalu, the judge said, "I am satisfied that she (Dayalu) is a woman, aged and infirm, suffering from various age related diseases and as such presently unable to make an appearance in court despite being desirous of it, which is indicated by the presence of battery of lawyers on her behalf."
"Accordingly, I am inclined to enlarge her on bail," the court, which also exempted her from personal appearance in the case before it till further orders, said.
The court, however, did not accept the contentions of her lawyer that she should be discharged in the case as she was of "unsound mind" and suffering from various ailments, including Alzheimer.
"Every age-related problem does not constitute unsoundness of mind, though it may be of some severe nature," the court said in its separate 31-page order.
Besides Raja, Kanimozhi and Dayalu, the court granted bail to Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV MD Sharad Kumar, Bollywood producer Karim Morani and P Amirtham.
They were granted bail on furnishing a personal bond of Rs five lakh each with two sureties of the like amount. The court also imposed several conditions on the accused while granting them bail.
In its order, the court observed that they were appearing before it regularly in the trial of scheduled offences in the 2G case in which CBI had earlier filed charge sheets against them and others.
"They (accused) have, by and large, cooperated with the trial and have not conducted, in any manner, unbecoming of conduct in a court. The prosecution has neither contended nor placed on record any material indicating that the accused may repeat the offence of money laundering in foreseeable future.
"Accordingly, based on their conduct in court for the last more than three years and lack of anything adverse against them on record, I am satisfied that accused are not likely to commit any offence again," it said.
The judge further said, "I find that the accused have given an explanation regarding the transfer of Rs 200 crore, though the same may ultimately turn out to be false, there is no possibility of accused fleeing from justice or tampering with any evidence or witness and there is no likelihood of accused committing the offence again."
The court also said that the accused have been successful in making out a case for bail and sending them to custody would not serve any purpose.
It also said that entire evidence in the case was "almost documentary" and there was no possibility of it being tampered with by any accused.
The judge also noted that according to the allegations levelled against the accused, this was not a case of "overwhelming and overriding evidence in favour of prosecution" and the case was largely based on circumstantial evidence.
"The source of money is known at both ends, that is, when the amount of Rs 200 crore was transferred by Dynamix Realty to Kalaignar TV (P) Ltd and also when this amount was returned by KTV to Dynamix Realty. The transaction has been carried out through banking channels, full details of which are available," it said.
In its separate order granting bail to Dayalu, the court said that according to the medical record of the accused, it cannot be said that she is a person of "unsound mind".
"The medical record, with due respect, refers only to her inability to move out of her residence and to travel to a distant place amongst strangers. It does not convey that she is a person of unsound mind.
"This is pure exaggeration, though there is no doubt that she is a person suffering from age-related problems and may be in a weak physical condition of some severity and as such an infirm person. By no means she can be said to be too demented to stand trial," it said.
"Age confers no impunity. It cannot be used as a facade to escape trial, though it may furnish ground for seeking legally recognized reliefs such as bail, exemption etc," the court, which fixed the matter for further hearing on September 10, said.
ED had chargesheeted 19 accused, 10 individuals and nine firms, in the case.
In its charge sheet, ED had claimed that its probe into the case emanates from 2G spectrum allocation scam and the accused had allegedly conspired and committed offences under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
It also named Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, Kusegaon Realty Pvt Ltd (formerly known as Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd), Cineyug Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd (formerly known as Cineyug Films Pvt Ltd), Kalaignar TV Pvt Ltd, Dynamix Realty, Eversmile Construction Company Pvt Ltd, Conwood Constructions and Developers (P) Ltd, DB Realty Ltd and Nihar Constructions Pvt Ltd as accused in the case.