NEW DELHI: The former Samata Party president, Jaya Jaitley, facing trial for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs two lakh in 2000 to recommend a fictitious defence deal to Defence Ministry, was today allowed by a Delhi court to permanently retain her passport to undertake her frequent travels abroad.
"I am of the opinion that no prejudice is going to be caused to the case, if the passport taken into possession by the CBI is released to be kept with the accused (Jaitley)," the Special CBI Judge, Mr Kanwaljeet Arora said.
The court also allowed Jaitley to travel to Kathmandu in Nepal to attend the fourth annual conference of 'South Asia Women's Network' scheduled to be held from July 17 to 19.
Jaitley's counsel submitted to the court that she is a social activist and had been granted permission to travel abroad on earlier occasions and that she never misused the court's permission. The CBI, however, had objected to her plea for release of the passport and for reemission to go abroad saying she may flee from justice which would jeopardise the trial.
"Balancing the twin interests of justice to be done at the earliest on the one hand and the right to carry on her avocation and to facilitate her to participate in the discussion on the other hand, the present application filed by accused Jayakrishna Jaitley is allowed," the court said, while also directing Jaitley not to leave the country without its permission.
Imposing certain conditions on Jaitley before undertaking the travel, the court asked her to furnish her address of stay in Nepal and the itinerary.
Besides furnishing a security of Rs 25,000 to the court, Jaitley was also directed to give an affidavit to it that her counsel would represent her in her absence and that she may not seek adjournment of the court proceedings on the ground of her absence.
She was also directed not to extend her stay in Nepal in any circumstances whatsoever.
Meanwhile, the court also recorded the statement of prosecution witness Brij Kishore Sharma, the accounts manager with Buffalo Network Private Limited, which was rechristened as Anant Media Pvt Ltd, of which Tarun Tejpal is one of the directors.
Earlier, on her return from Singapore, where she had attended a panel debate on "Smith Women Leading Change: Asia 2012", Ms Jaitley had sought the court's permission to retain her passport saying she needed it every now and then to go abroad to attend such panel discussion on various issues.
Jaitley along with her erstwhile party colleague Gopal Pacherwal and retired Major General S P Murgai is facing trial for allegedly conspiring for "accepting bribe" for obtaining supply order of defence equipment in favour of a private firm.
The case against them was lodged on the basis of a sting 'Operation Westend' conducted by newsportal tehelka.Com in 2000, purportedly exposing the alleged corruption in defence deals. George Fernandes, who was founder of Samata Party, was the then defence minister during the NDA rule.
The court had framed charges against the trio for offences of criminal conspiracy under the IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
It had said the accused, along with one Surender Kumar Surekha who has turned approver, conspired to accept bribe from Mathew Samuel, representative of M/s Westend International for inducing officials of Ministry of Defence for obtaining supply orders for Hand Held Thermal Imagers (HHTIs) from Army Headquarters in favour of the firm.