The Delhi High Court on Wednesday declined a petition submitted by several 2G spectrum scam accused who sought relief from taking care of the saplings they have been ordered to plant as a penalty, PTI reported.

Swan Telecom promoter Usman Balwa, businessman Rajiv Agarwal and others were asked to plant and nurture 3,000 plants each after their did not respond to the Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation’s petitions against their acquittals. The agencies had said accused were affluent and could easily afford the penalty.

Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, who appeared for Balwa and Agarwal, requested the court to relieve them from nurturing the saplings after they have been planted.

Justice Najmi Waziri cited the accused’s “fancy addresses” in posh areas of Mumbai as proof that they can afford the penalty when they claimed that the cost of planting and maintaining the saplings until monsoon would be “excessive”. However, Waziri agreed to reduce the number of saplings to be planted from 3,000 to 1,500 each.

The court had directed Balwa, who is the director of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Private Limited, Agarwal, and firms Dynamic Realty, DB Realty Limited and Nihar Constructions Private Limited to plant 3,000 trees each. The court had also asked former Telecom Minister A Raja’s ex-private secretary RK Chandolia, Asif Balwa and Agarwal to plant 500 trees each in South Delhi.

All the accused told the court that they had filed their response to the petitions, following which the court listed the next hearing for March 26.

In December 2017, a special court had acquitted Raja, Kanimozhi and others in the CBI and ED cases.

The scam

The alleged scandal is said to have originated in 2008, when the Union Ministry of Communications and Information Technology sold 122 2G licenses on a first-come-first-served basis.

The primary allegation was that Raja, as the Union telecom minister, chose this method to favour a few companies and received kickbacks for doing so. The Enforcement Directorate claimed that kickbacks earned from the scam were routed to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-run television channel Kalaignar TV, in which Kanimozhi and Dayalu Ammal, the wife of DMK patriarch Karunanidhi, held 80% of the shares.

The CBI claimed that Raja incurred huge losses for the state exchequer by undercharging telecom firms. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India had estimated the total loss to be Rs 1.76 lakh crore.