Bickering marks hearings in India’s biggest graft trial | Pakistan Today

Bickering marks hearings in India’s biggest graft trial

NEW DELHI – India’s biggest corruption case descended into bickering over the quality of poorly photocopied witness testimonies and noisy ceiling fans on Friday as five senior business executives fought to win bail in a packed and stuffy court.
Judge OP Saini deferred until Wednesday a decision on bail applications of officials from the Indian joint ventures of Norway’s Telenor , the United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat and from India’s Reliance ADA group, owned by tycoon Anil Ambani, named in the case.
Sacked telecoms minister Andimuthu Raja and the executives are charged with manipulating the granting of telecoms licences in the world’s fastest-growing telecoms market, causing a potential loss to the government of $39 billion. In a country where top business executives and politicians have been largely seen as untouchable, the case has gripped the public amid a growing backlash from an urban middle class angry about corruption in one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
But on Friday, more mundane matters ruled, highlighting India’s archaic court system that is often criticised for taking years to deliver justice. “The lines are missing in several statements. The documents are haphazard,” a lawyer brandishing a copy of a handwritten witness deposition told Saini. The judge acknowledged even he could not read it.
“Several pages are missing,” the lawyer said. Duffle bags filled with documents were scattered around the court while a security official with a gun slung over his shoulder stood guard in sweltering heat.
HEAT AND CHAOS: One executive had to fight his way through a crowd of journalists, relatives and officials in the court while lawyers pleaded with the throng to let them pass. As the court became gradually hotter, an argument broke out over whether a noisy fan should be left on.
Sweat glistened on the brows of several lawyers and someone complained of feeling faint, prompting the judge to order a window to be opened in the hope of cooling the white-panelled room.
The case is the latest chapter in a series of corruption scandals that have embarrassed the Congress party-led government, which faces a test of strength in major state elections that could redraw India’s political landscape.

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