HC rejects plea of 2G scam accused for relief from nurturing trees

HC rejects plea of 2G scam accused for relief from nurturing trees

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court here on Wednesday rejected plea of Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa and others seeking relief from nurturing trees, which they have to plant as part of the punishment for failing to file responses on investigating agencies’ appeal challenging their acquittal in the 2G case.

However, Justice Najmi Waziri agreed to Balwa and businessman Rajiv Agarwal’s plea to reduce the number of trees to 1,500 from 3,000 each to be planted in Delhi’s South Ridge forest area.

In the plea, Balwa and others told the court they appeared before the Deputy Conservator of Forests in compliance of the order. The officer told them they would have to arrange purchase of trees, manure, water, engagement of contractors and labours for performing nurturing the plants.

They said planting and nurturing of trees would cost around Rs 6.27 crore.

However, Justice Waziri told the accused he had passed similar directions to various parties and none had complained that nurturing of plants was excessive.

On February 7, the court had asked three companies — Dynamix Reality Pvt Ltd, DB Reality and Nihar Constructions — to plant 3,000 trees each. The court has directed them to submit photographs of their plantation drive on the next date of hearing.

Former Union Telecom Minister A. Raja’s close aide R.K. Chandolia, Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd, were earlier asked to plant 500 saplings each.

The court has said trees should be of indigenous variety and must be taken care of till the monsoon.

The court was hearing an appeal challenging acquittal of former Telecom Minister A. Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and others in the 2G spectrum case. A special court had acquitted Raja, Kanimozhi and others on December 21, 2017.

The others acquitted included, DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal, Asif Balwa, Vinod Goenka, film producer Karim Morani, P. Amirtham and Sharad Kumar.

The probe agencies moved the court in March 2018 challenging the trial court’s order.

At the hearing on October 9, 2018, the Delhi High Court had granted them the last opportunity to file responses on the agencies’ plea, warning no more delays would be allowed.

However, when Balwa and the others failed to reply despite repeated reminders, it asked them to carry out a plantation drive instead of imposing monetary costs on them.

Mostly in such circumstances, the court imposes costs on the litigants.

The court asked Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to file rejoinder on the accused plea and listed the matter for March 26 for further hearing.

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