2G trial judge can’t hear cheating case: Telecom firm

A telecom company’s counsel told the Supreme Court Wednesday that the special Delhi court conducting the trial of 2G cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act could not take up the cases against Essar Teleholdings Ltd. and Loop Telecom Ltd, who have been booked for cheating.

An apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya was told by senior counsel Harish Salve, who appeared for Essar Teleholding Ltd., that the cheating charge against the two telecom operators were not part of the same transaction in which former communications minister A. Raja and officials were charged under the anti-corruption law.

Salve drew the attention of the court to the first sentence of the government notification constituting the trial court which said that in exercise of the power conferred under the Prevention of Corruption Act the trial of all the cases in the 2G matter would be carried out by the court of special judge.

If in the course of the investigation of a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, another offence surfaced, which was unrelated to the corruption matter under probe and attracted proceedings under penal provisions for cheating, then it could not be tried by the court of special judge constituted under anti-corruption law, Salve told the court.

Justice Mukhopadhaya pointed out that the high court in its order said that the special judge would deal with all the cases relating to 2G as on that date.

Salve said that that high court could not have passed such an administrative order and it had to be a judicial order after hearing all the parties in the case.

The senior counsel cited earlier judgment of the apex court in support of his contention that Special Judge O.P. Saini could not have taken the cognizance of the cheating charges under the Indian Penal Code against his client. The cheating charges could be tried in a magistrate court.

Salve told this to the court in the course of the hearing of the impugned order the high court by which it said that in view of the Supreme Court orders of Feb 10, 2011 and April 11, 2011, it would be appropriate for the parties to seek clarification from the apex court.


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