New Delhi, 16 Jul (PTI): CBI today told a Delhi court that deposition of Reliance ADAG Chairman Anil Ambani and his wife Tina Ambani is required in the 2G spectrum case as witnesses as the firm’s officials, who were examined, have not given “clear-cut answers” as to who decided on behalf of their alleged shell companies regarding the radiowaves allocation.
CBI said although various witnesses of Reliance ADAG were examined during the ongoing trial, they have not given proper answers on various aspects, due to which they now want to examine Anil and Tina Ambani as prosecution witnesses.
“There are a number of witnesses from Reliance ADAG who have been examined. No one (witnesses) gave clear-cut answers as to who were the persons who took these decisions.
“There are seven facets of matters on which we do not have clear-cut answers and thus we want to examine Anil Ambani and Tina Ambani,” Special public prosecutor U U Lalit said while arguing on CBI’s plea seeking to summon the Ambanis and others as prosecution witnesses to “arrive at the truth” and for a “just decision” in the case.
During the arguments, Lalit said the court had on December 19 last year allowed CBI’s plea and had summoned certain bank documents relating to the case and now they want to examine some of these witnesses to prove the same.
Regarding Ambanis, he said there are seven areas with respect to which CBI wants to examine them.
He, however, said as Tina and Anil Ambani’s statements would be on parallel grounds and if one would give clear answers, they may drop the second person.
“Whosoever comes first and gives the entire clear picture, we will straight away drop the second one,” he told Special CBI Judge O P Saini who would continue hearing the arguments tomorrow, adding the probe agency is not doing any roving inquiry in the matter.
Opposing CBI’s plea, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for one of the top Reliance ADAG executives facing trial in the case, said it should be dismissed as it has been filed with an idea to harass Anil and Tina Ambani.
“The idea is only to embarrass and harass them,” he said adding a “just decision of the case means just for both the sides. CBI cannot fill up the lacunae.”
Rohatgi argued CBI’s move was really a case of “re-investigation” and it would be inappropriate to allow the plea at such a fag end of the trial when over 130 prosecution witnesses have already been examined.
“No reason is given in the application except using the phrase ‘for a just decision’. There is no reason as to why they (CBI) have not woken up, if they have to, after the charges were framed,” he said.
Rohatgi said Anil Ambani is the head of Reliance ADAG and if CBI wants to know from him about such basic things, then what was the probe agency was doing during the investigation.
“I am amazed and shocked to see the name of Tina Ambani in the list….It is like hitting below the belt,” he said.
During the hearing, Lalit told the court that out of the 17 persons whom they have named as witnesses in their plea, they are dropping four straight away and two others are being called for re-examination as they had been earlier examined during the trial.
He said the four whom CBI is dropping are Raj Pal, then advisor to TRAI, Gitesh Kale, a bank official, Afzal Lodhi, Company Secretary of Etisalat DB Telecom Pvt Ltd and CBI official D K Barik.
Lalit referred to a single day transactions of October 19, 2007 of around Rs 997 crore among various entities of DB Group Company and Reliance ADAG companies, saying they need to ascertain the same by examining these witnesses who will also prove the supporting documents which CBI has procured from various banks.
He said being the head of Reliance ADA Group, Anil Ambani’s testimony is necessary to the effect as to who was responsible for incorporation of these “shell” companies, including Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, facing trial in the case.
He also told the court that “in order to have completeness in this matter…these witnesses are required to be examined.”
Lalit said CBI is looking into the entire matter and they have not been “unfair”.
Opposing CBI’s plea, senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for one of the accused, a Reliance ADAG official, said the agency’s petition is a clear abuse of power and these are pressure tactics.
Senior advocate Hariharan, appearing for another top executive of Reliance ADAG facing trial in the case, said CBI is not placing the entire picture before the court.
Regarding CBI’s plea to call Anil Ambani as a witness, he said the agency wants to examine him just because he is the head of the institution i.e Reliance ADAG.
“CBI wants to call Anil Ambani as he is the head of Reliance ADAG. This court had not allowed the plea to call the Prime Minister as a witness. The Prime Minister is the head of the institution. The same logic goes with Anil Ambani. CBI is saying he is the head of the institution i.e Reliance ADAG so he should come,” he said.
He said CBI is saying that Anil Ambani will be examined regarding the incorporation of the alleged shell companies but the fact is that he was not a part of these firms in any manner.
“The best possible evidence could have been that of the directors of these companies when they were incorporated. Why they want Anil Ambani for that? He is not connected with these things,” he said.
Hariharan also said CBI is witholding the statements of Anil Ambani and one other witness, which were recorded earlier during the probe into the case.
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, who appeared for Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, also opposed CBI’s plea saying the agency had told the court a number of times that its probe into the case is over but now they are saying these witnesses are required to be examined.
“CBI was careless in filing this application and thus they are dropping four names now. They have not given the relevance of these persons as to why they are required to be examined at this belated stage of trial,” he said.
He also said some of the documents which CBI now wants to place before the court are prior to the date of the alleged conspiracy and the agency is “filling its lacunae” in the case.
“CBI is trying to build a new case as their earlier case is falling flat. This is an attempt to re-investigate and also re-trial and it would seriously prejudice the accused,” he said.
RADAG’s Group company Reliance Telecom Ltd (RTL) and Vinod Goenka, Managing Director of the DB Realty Ltd, are accused in the case.
Three top Reliance ADAG executives– Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair– are facing trial in the case along with Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka.
The agency had alleged RTL used Swan Telecom, an ineligible firm, as its front company to get 2G licenses and the costly radio waves.
“He (Anil Ambani), being the head of Reliance ADA Group, his testimony is required to depose as to who was responsible for incorporation of shell companies including Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, Tiger Traders Pvt Ltd, Zebra Consultants Pvt Ltd….
their inter-locking equity structures, corporate structuring of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd, investments/divestments into/out of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd By Reliance Telecom Ltd, Reliance Communications Ltd, Vikata Engineering Services Pvt Ltd and other Reliance ADA Group companies….,” CBI had said.
CBI, in its plea, had said Anil Ambani’s testimony is required to know about the “decision to apply for UAS licences on behalf of Swan Telecom, pursuing the process of applications with DoT, transfer of Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd to the DB Group in October 2007.”
Regarding Tina Ambani, CBI had said she was occupying an “important position” in Reliance ADA Group and was “authorised to transact on behalf of Tiger Traders Pvt Ltd and Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd without any limit on value.”