Raja seeks time after CBI summons him, Radia in 2G probe (Roundup)By IANS
Monday, December 20, 2010
CHENNAI/NEW DELHI - Former communications minister A. Raja
Monday sought time after the CBI summoned him and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and interrogated a top retired official over the 2G spectrum scam, even as AIADMK leader J. Jayalalitha demanded Raja’s arrest.
Coinciding with the Central Bureau of Investigation summons to Raja, the once leading light of the DMK rushed to a doctor for a health check-up but insisted he was not running away from the process of law.
A similar summons went to Radia, the lobbyist at the heart of a raging scandal involving allocation of second generation spectrum by Raja in 2008 at below market prices, causing huge losses to the government.
Simultaneously, CBI officials in New Delhi questioned former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chief Pradeep Baijal, who was raided by the CBI last week along with Radia, Raja and others linked to the former minister in search of the scam-tainted money trail.
A CBI official said Raja, who was forced to resign from the cabinet last month, was expected to appear for questioning in Chennai Wednesday.
Raja was dismissive about the CBI move.
“It (questioning) is the usual procedure. I will comply with the needs,” Raja told IANS. He later said he was “not afraid of the CBI”.
“I am a lawyer. As a lawyer, I will abide by the law. I will not evade the law,” a visibly agitated Raja, who has denied charges of wrongdoing, told reporters.
Raja said he had told the CBI that he can appear at their office only after two days as he was busy with personal work.
He added: I am not an accused and there is no question of my applying for anticipatory bail.
In Tamil Nadu, where Raja and the spectrum scandal have become major issues ahead of next year’s assembly elections, former chief minister J. Jayalalitha demanded the DMK leader’s arrest.
At the other end, Chief Minister and DMK chief Karunanidhi tried to brush away the CBI’s summons as a “routine” matter but quickly added that action would be taken against Raja if he was found guilty.
He also batted for Raja saying the latter had only followed telecom policies which his predecessors had.
CBI sources said the notice to Raja was sent under section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code which allows the agency to ask anybody to join the investigation and share information he or she may have.
Baijal, a 1966 batch civil servant who joined Radia’s firm after retirement, was questioned for over three hours at the CBI headquarters.
The CBI gave no details.
As he stepped out, Baijal refused to speak to the media, saying he had told the CBI what he wanted to say.
The CBI summons and interrogation of Baijal came after it carried out coordinated raids a week ago in New Delhi, Noida and Tamil Nadu, with most people targeted being relatives or associates of Raja.
One such place was a Chennai-based NGO linked to DMK MP and Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi, who has been closely associated with Raja.