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Court notice to CBI on charges against Reliance Telecom

The Delhi High Court issued a notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Monday asking it to respond to a plea by Reliance Telecom, seeking the quashing of charges against the firm in the second generation (2G) spectrum case.

 Justice Mukta Gupta, however, declined to issue immediate notices to other respondents named by Reliance Telecom — the law ministry, the Department of Telecom (DoT), and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

 The judge directed the investigative agency to file its response within four weeks and gave Reliance Telecom three weeks thereafter to file a rejoinder, if any. The decision to include other respondents will be taken on the next date of hearing Jan 12.

 The Delhi High Court notice was issued when the bail petition of three Reliance Group executives — Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair — came up for hearing before the Supreme Court Monday. The trial by the special court is slated to start Nov 11.

 Reliance Telecom in its petition had held that the special court of the CBI was wrong in dismissing its contention that Swan Teleco, one of the firms that had been issued a telecom licence in 2007-08, was not an associate firm.

 ‘Reliance Telecom never held stakes in excess of 9.9 percent in Swan and that, too, was divested prior to the grant of licenses. No incriminating material has been indicated in the charge cheet or by the prosecution,’ the company’s counsel N.K. Kaul argued.

 ‘The charges framed against the petitioner have no basis in law. In fact, there is no act or omission attributable to the petitioner that has been indicated in the charges that justify the continuation of criminal proceedings against the petitioner,’ Kaul said.

 ‘The charges framed as against the accused indicate that there are charges for multiple conspiracies and it is unclear as to how and when these multiple conspiracies took place and also as to how they form a cohesive single conspiracy,’ he added.

 ‘The petitioner has always held less than 10 percent share holding in Swan and has also been compliant with legal requirements, including the Unified Access Services Licenses (UASL) guidelines,’ said Kaul.

 ‘For that, it is the admitted position that the petitioner had even divested itself of 9.9 percent shares held by it in Swan on Dec 5, 2007, much prior to issuance of letters of intent in Jan 2008. Thus, no benefit accrued to it from the grant of UASL to Swan.’

 There are 17 accused in the case, including three companies and 14 individuals, led by former telecom minister A. Raja.

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