New Delhi, Aug. 23: When Tina Munim and Rajesh Khanna crooned on screen “mummy ne meri tumhe chai pe bulaya hai (mummy has called you over for tea)”, the peppy song from Souten played on the lips of many home-grown Romeos for months.
Three decades on, when Tina Ambani, now mummy of two boys, invited O.P. Saini to her home to enjoy her hospitality, the special judge could not help but burst out in laughter and a smile was playing on his lips when he left the courtroom.
The context of the 1983 song and the disarming invitation today were as different as the roles Tina had played then as a Bollywood actress and is playing now as the wife of one of the most famous industrialists in the country.
Tina, who appeared in the special CBI court as a prosecution witness in the 2G case, extended the open invitation to Judge Saini when he told her to go home as her testimony was over.
“Thank you very much, Sir. Please come to my house as a guest whenever you are in Mumbai and also visit the multi-speciality hospital which I run there. You must come,” she said with a wide smile on her face.
The judge — not to mention the rest of the packed courtroom — appeared taken aback for a brief moment before he let laughter take over. Saini did not say anything but left the courtroom smiling.
By then, Tina had logged around one-and-a-half hours in the witness box, braving charges of “lying” and “concealing facts” from the CBI and fortified by tissues fished out from a handbag by an associate in the courtroom where the two air-conditioners had packed up.
Once the judge left, the actress of yesteryears obliged several autograph seekers — mostly court employees and lawyers — and wished them happiness while frequently mopping her face.
After taking oath, the 55-year-old Tina testified that she had no role in the affairs of Reliance ADAG, chaired by her husband Anil Ambani who deposed yesterday in the same court
“I have no role in Reliance ADAG. I am a housewife, run a hospital and also do a lot of social work.… I have never been associated with any Reliance ADAG company,” she said.
Tina was shown a large number of documents of various firms said to be associated with Reliance ADAG, including Zebra Consultant Pvt Ltd, Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd and Tiger Consultant Private Ltd. “I do not have any knowledge about these firms,” she said.
Swan Telecom, a firm floated by 2G scam accused Shahid Balwa, is alleged to be a front company of Reliance Telecom.
Tina said she could not recall whether she attended a board meeting when it was pointed out the documents suggested such an event had taken place in 2005-2006 and she was one of the signatories.
“This has taken place so many years ago. If it is in minutes, then I believe I was there at the meeting. I cannot recall as it happened many years ago,” she told the court when the CBI prosecutor K.K. Goel showed her the purported minutes of the meeting.
A lawyer pointed out that Anil had also answered most questions with “I do not recall”.
“She is his better half,” the judge said, drawing a round of laughter.
In July, the court had summoned Anil and Tina after the CBI said both needed to testify about transactions among various firms that were alleged to have been front companies. The agency contended that Tina was one of the signatories to the transactions and required to be examined.
When CBI prosecutor Goel asked Tina whether she knew the three Reliance ADAG executives facing trial in the case — Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair — she said she did not know two of them.
“I do not know Nair and Pipara at all. I only know Gautam Bhai is a tax consultant, though I never interacted with him,” she said.
Goel then told the court: “She is lying. I think she is deliberately concealing the truth. We have shown her the minutes of the board meeting but she is not saying anything about what business was carried out then. We want to cross-examine her.”
The court allowed the cross-examination.
Asked to identify her signature, Tina said: “I have signed these documents when they were sent to me for signing by the professional team of the companies and I have no reason not to trust them. I have no knowledge of any company by the name of Swan Telecom. If something has been recorded, it must be true. This meeting was in 2006. It’s difficult for me to recall now.”
When she was asked by the prosecution to identify the signatures of Anil on some documents, defence counsel objected. The defence team wondered why she was being told to do so when Anil had already identified his signature.
“They bring a witness and do not trust her memory. What is this?” senior advocate Harish Salve asked. “If he (Anil) has identified his signature, why are they showing to her his signatures? Are they doubting his signature?” senior counsel Harish Salve said.
Some lawyers complained to the judge that many people not connected with the case crowded the courtroom leading to suffocation as the air-conditioners were not working. The judge asked such people to leave.
Majid Memon, one of the defence lawyers, said: “It’s more glamour and less oxygen inside the courtroom today.”