The first high profile corporate accused in the 2G spectrum scam began his arguments in court against the CBI charges on Monday by relying on “zero loss” statements made by the prime minister and telecom minister Kapil Sibal.
Shahid Usman Balwa of DB Realty argued before the special CBI court of O P Saini that he didn’t cause any loss to the exchequer and quoted PM Manmohan Singh and Sibal’s statements, wondering how the CBI could book him when both the PM and the telecom minister “have said that there was no loss in the 2G case”.
“Sixteen months after the FIR was registered, the PM gave a statement in Lok Sabha that there was no loss in the 2G case. The government of India is the main victim in this case. Why didn’t the CBI write a letter to any minister or relevant person in the government who could tell about the actual loss to the exchequer,” Balwa’s lawyer Majid Memon asked, seeking his client’s discharge in the case.
He added that telecom minister Kapil Sibal had categorically stated that there was no loss in the 2G case. “Who can know better than him? He is a responsible minister and hence will not
make an irresponsible statements… he made the statement after he got the feed by
a team of his people,” Memon said.
Balwa contended that his incarceration had spoiled the investment climate in the country and caused alarm worldwide and many international agencies were contemplating sending observers to monitor the trial. “A wrong message has gone to the world by jailing Balwa. Members of International Bar with Amnesty International want to send observers. So do members of Fair Trial International and United Nations human rights wing,” Memon claimed. The observers wanted to monitor the trial as “they are wondering why corporate accused charged under these offences continue to be in jail so long”.
Balwa asserted that CBI’s entire case was based upon the loss to the state exchequer but the government clearly stated in Parliament that no loss was suffered and instead tele-density in the country increased in 2010 from what it was in 2004. “The PM simply supported a policy that was entirely consonant with TRAI recommendations and the 10th five-year plan, which talked of increasing tele-density, non-revision of prices and not to auction spectrum. We are not saying PM supported wrongdoers. He just supported the right policy,” Balwa argued.
He also slammed the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report, claiming the then external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee and then solicitor general G E Vahanvati were aware of A Raja’s telecom policy. Balwa claimed the duo was aware of the telecom policy and the PM endorsed all the decisions.
He accused the CBI of withholding from court crucial documents that disclosed a discussion between Mukherjee and the then solicitor general on the allocation policy. “There was a personal discussion between the then minister of external affairs (Pranab Mukherjee) and the solicitor general (G E Vahanvati) on the allocation policy. CBI should place all the documents before this court.”
Accusing the CBI of leaving influential persons untouched, Balwa said, “I am here because of my business rivals. Certain powerful people have not been touched.”
Balwa also tagetted the Tata group in his arguments. “Due to Tatas, the exchequer suffered a loss of Rs 4,930 crore while Swan Telecom is placed seventh in the alleged list with its contribution Rs 2,624 crore. The highest contributor of loss is Tata.
“Tata was the only company to sell secondary equity. They earned Rs 12,000 crore from it, out of which Rs 3,000 crore went into Tata Sons’ pocket while only Rs 9,000 crore was put into the company,” Balwa alleged.