New Delhi: After 15 gruelling months, former telecom minister and DMK leader A. Raja walked out of Tihar Jail here Tuesday after getting bail in the 2G spectrum case with a rider that he can't visit his former office or his home state Tamil Nadu without permission.
Raja's numerous supporters, many from Tamil Nadu, broke into wild sloganeering and clapping once special CBI judge O.P. Saini told Raja that his bail plea was accepted -- the last of 14 accused in the case to be enlarged on bail.
The celebrations continued outside Tihar Jail as Raja eventually walked out five minutes after 7 in the evening, and then at his residence here on Moti Lal Nehru Marg, with many waving the DMK's red-and-black flags.
Firecrackers went off at both places. Aides distributed sweets.
"Considering the progress of the trial, period of custody of the accused and the fact that all other accused have been released on bail, I am of the opinion that further detention of the accused would not serve any purpose and, for these reasons, I am inclined to grant applicant (Raja) bail," Judge Saini said, overruling objection from the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Raja was given bail on a surety of Rs.20 lakh.
But he directed Raja not to visit the department of telecommunications (DoT) or Tamil Nadu without the court's permission.
In Chennai, the DMK expressed confidence that Raja would eventually triumph in the legal battle.
"We are happy. Getting bail is part of the legal process. We are confident that Raja will come out clean in the whole episode," DMK spokesperson T.K.S. Elangovan told reporters.
There were celebrations in Raja's hometown Perambalur, around 300 km from Chennai, too.
Besides the 14 individuals, three companies were also charged in the spectrum case related to 2G spectrum licences allocated during the tenure of Raja as communications minister.
The court issued its releasing order after DMK MPs Adhi Shankar and Tiruchi Siva furnished Raja's bail bond.
The court also told Raja that he would not directly or indirectly make any inducement or threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case.
Raja will appear in the court on all dates fixed for hearing of the case either personally or through his counsel.
Giving details, Raja's counsel told reporters that the judge called Raja towards him and said: "Your bail application is allowed."
"Raja had not moved bail until all other 13 were granted bail," he added. "Now all the accused are on bail. The case will go on."
The CBI had opposed Raja's bail application, saying he faced charges of accepting bribes of Rs.200 crore.
This, the CBI said, made his case different from former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, who was granted bail by the Supreme Court last week.
Raja had requested the court to release him on the ground of parity.
The agency told the court that Raja got bail, he may influence the witnesses as some of them belonged to Tamil Nadu.
Raja resigned as minister Nov 14, 2010 after the Comptroller and Auditor General reported that his 2008 decision to allocate 2G spectrum on a first-come-first-served basis had caused the exchequer a presumptive loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore. The CBI arrested him Feb 2, 2011.
The Supreme Court in February cancelled 122 spectrum licences allocated during Raja's tenure.
It also ruled that all natural resources should be allocated through an auction.