2G:Accused challenge shifting of trial venue

New Delhi: The accused in 2G spectrum case today approached the Delhi High Court challenging its administrative decision to shift the trial in the case from its present venue at Patiala House courts to high-security Tihar Jail. Around 15 defence lawyers mentioned the matter before a bench of justices S K Kaul and Rajiv Shakdher and sought its intervention on the decision to shift the trial saying it would cause a lot of inconvenience to the lawyers and the accused.

"This case is not related to any terrorist activity where there is a security threat. It is only a case of economic offence that does not warrant this decision," one of the defence lawyers said in the packed courtroom. "Moreover, bigger courtrooms are already available in the Patiala House court complex where the trial could be conducted," he said.

Justice Kaul responded to the plea by saying, "I will personally meet the acting Chief Justice and take up the matter… "Suppose, you do not get adequate relief, then you can always move a writ petition on the issue," he observed.

The court also said that the decision to shift the trial was an administrative one which had been taken by the acting chief justice, and he should be consulted on it. The bench asked the lawyers to approach it again later today.

The special CBI judge conducting the trial in the matter had yesterday announced shifting of the trial to Tihar Jail from November 24 in accordance with a Delhi High Court notification of November 21.

"In exercise of the powers conferred by section 9 (6) of the CrPC, 1973, the acting Chief Justice and judges of this court (Delhi High Court) have been pleased to order that the trial of the 2G spectrum cases shall be held in Tihar court complex, New Delhi, according to law," the notification, issued by the high court, read.

All the accused, including former Telecom Minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi, have opposed the move. "I do not know what is happening in this country. The shifting of the trial to Tihar Jail would create a lot of problems as we will not be able to properly have legal consultation with our counsel.

"Till now, the lawyers could reach Patiala House courts from the Supreme Court or the High Court within 10-15 minutes, but it would not be possible for them to reach Tihar Jail as they would have to leave all their other cases," Raja had said on Tuesday after the judge had apprised them of the decision to change the trial venue.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court today granted bail to five corporate honchos — Unitech Limited MD Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom Director Vinod Goenka and Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group executives Hari Nair, Gautam Doshi and Surrendra Pipara, arrested for their alleged roles in the case.