The Delhi High Court, while allowing the applications of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) seeking early hearing on their appeals against the acquittal of the 2G spectrum scam case accused, held that "it is difficult to accept" that "the matter being voluminous in nature cannot be argued or heard by video conference".
"In this age of advanced technology, there are speedy and effective modes of communication through which people can easily connect, even though sitting at long distances. Since, technology has advanced, it is difficult to accept the submissions that matter being voluminous in nature cannot be argued or heard by video conference," said a single-judge bench of Justice Brijesh Sethi.
The observation came in response to the submissions by the counsel for the accused in the case that it will be difficult to connect with the clients and they will not be able to make effective submissions.
The bench has allowed the appeals and has slated the matter for hearing on day to day basis commencing from October 5.
While the matter was being heard through video conferencing, counsel for the accused also argued that Justice Sethi should not proceed with the matter as it is not urgent in nature.
Justice Sethi, however, ruled that when he has heard the matter in detail though in part, he should not leave the said case and other cases inconclusive for another bench to hear afresh as this would result in "wastage of precious judicial time and putting unnecessary burden on public exchequer".
"The court should not shirk from its duty and at the same time, all the learned counsel are also expected to assist and cooperate with this Court in expeditious disposal of these petitions.
"No doubt, the documents are voluminous in nature and had the petitioners moved these applications two or three months earlier, it would have been easier to decide the petitions. However, even if it has not been done, this court should not make it a ground for refusing early hearing and in fact, should make all endeavour to hear the petitions undaunted by the fact that the record is voluminous and the arguments are going to be in detail," he said.
While the matter was being heard, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, representing the probe agencies, submitted that substantial public time has already been consumed and since Justice Sethi, who is hearing the matter currently, is all set to demit office in November, the matter should be heard immediately.
"A judge can always decide how much time is required to hear a matter...If genuine efforts are made and assistance is rendered its possible to take this matter to a logical conclusion," he said, while responding to the submissions made by the counsel of the accused that if there would be hurry, the accused won't get required time to put forth their stand.
"It's my duty to unravel the truth," said the judge while hearing the submissions made by Jain and also added that in his last four years at the high court, he had never stopped any counsel from arguing.
Advocate Manu Sharma, appearing for former Telecom Minister A. Raja, argued that there was no cause to grant an out-of-turn, urgent hearing to the appeals moved by the CBI and the ED amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, along with Mudit Jain and Ashul Agarwal, representing Shahid Balwa and several others, too opposed the said petition, saying that the CBI has not explained as to why its appeal should be given precedence/preference.
The scam came to light almost seven years ago when the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in a report, held then Minister Raja responsible for causing the state exchequer a loss of Rs 1,76,379 crore by allocating 2G spectrum licenses at throwaway prices.
However, the trial court found that the prosecution failed to prove the charges. This verdict, however, doesn't override the Supreme Court judgement or take away from the fact that the licenses issued during 2G spectrum allocation were illegal.
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