LTL wants spl court to commit mistake and violate SC order: CBI

CBI today opposed the plea of Loop Telecom Ltd (LTL), facing trial in a case arising out of probe into 2G scam, for referring the matter to Lok Adalat, saying the accused want the special court to commit a “mistake” by passing an order in violation of the Supreme Court directive.

CBI argued that LTL, whose similar petition was dismissed by the court in March last year, has again filed the plea in the special court which cannot review its earlier order on the issue.

“This court has already passed an order on the issue and it cannot review it,” Senior public prosecutor K K Goel told Special CBI Judge O P Saini.

The prosecutor further said, “Why they (accused) are not going to Supreme Court on this issue? Why they want this court to commit a mistake or pass an illegal order?”

CBI argued that apex court had categorically ordered that only the special court would hear matters of 2G spectrum scam and “if this court will write in its order that the matter is referred to the Lok Adalat, then it will be a violation of the Supreme Court’s order.”

During the arguments, senior advocate S V Raju, appearing for LTL, argued that chances of arriving at a settlement was there as the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has not said that they do not want to settle the issue.

“DoT is saying they are not a party to the case. DoT is not saying they do not want to settle or compound…Chances of settlement are there as DoT has said that they will abide by what the court will decide,” he said.

Raju further said that LTL has already given a “concrete proposal” to DoT for settlement and the alleged offences, for which the firm is facing trial, were compoundable.

The court has reserved its order for March 12 on the plea filed by LTL and co-accused Vikash Saraf, Essar Group Director (Strategy and Planning) who are facing trial along with others including promoters of Essar Group, Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia, Loop promoters Kiran Khaitan, her husband I P Khaitan.

The court also said that it would hear final arguments in the case from April 1.

Lok Adalat is an alternative dispute resolution mechanism by which parties involved in civil and compoundable criminal cases try to arrive at a compromise to settle their case.

Court rejects Loop’s plea to refer matter to Lok Adalat

Lok AdalatA court here Thursday dismissed a plea filed by Loop Telecom seeking directions for referring the case against it to the Lok Adalat.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge O.P. Saini dismissed the plea after going through the reply filed by investigating agency and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

The CBI had opposed the plea while DoT said that it would abide by the court order.

The court said that the case does not appear to be fit to be referred to Lok Adalat.

Loop Telecom Ltd filed a plea seeking the court’s direction for referring the matter to the Lok Adalat, a system of alternative dispute resolution that focuses on compromise between two parties for settlement, saying the offences alleged against the firm were compoundable.

The two firms are facing charges of criminal conspiracy for cheating the DoT. A third set of charges filed by the CBI alleged that promoters of the Essar Group were the real investors and beneficiaries of the spectrum and licenses issued to Loop Telecom, which was used as a front company by Essar to acquire 2G licenses and spectrum in 2008.This has been denied by the firm.


2G: Court notice to DoT, CBI

bbDec 16 (IANS) A special court hearing the 2G case Monday issued notice to the CBI and the department of telecommunications (DoT) on a plea filed by Loop Telecom Ltd seeking directions for referring the matter to the Lok Adalat.

Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Judge O.P. Saini issued notice to CBI and DoT and posted the matter for Feb 20, 2014.

Loop Telecom Limited filed a plea seeking the court’s direction for referring the matter to the Lok Adalat, a system of alternative dispute resolution that focuses on compromise between two parties, for “settlement”, saying the offences alleged against the firm were compoundable.

Loop and the Essar Group are facing charges of criminal conspiracy for cheating the department of telecommunications (DoT).

A third set of charges filed by the CBI in the 2G case alleged that promoters of the Essar Group were the real investors and beneficiaries of the spectrum and licenses issued to Loop Telecom, which was used as a front company by the Essar Group to acquire the 2G licenses and spectrum in 2008.

This has been denied by the accused.

(Source: IANS)

SC to hear pleas of Sunil Mittal, Airtel tomorrow

Bharti Airtel’s plea challenging the Delhi High Court order giving its nod to the Centre’s decision holding the 3G roaming pact of the telecom major as illegal will be hear by the bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on March 15 had issued a notification restraining Bharti from providing 3G intra-circle roaming facilities in seven circles where it did not have the spectrum and also levied a penalty of Rs 350 crore (Rs 50 crore per circle) for violating the licence terms and conditions.

The telecom major has challenged the decision of the division bench of the high court which had set aside its single judge’s March 18 order staying the DoT notification.

While challenging the special 2G court’s order summoning him as an accused, Mittal has contended that criminal liability cannot be fastened on an individual for alleged acts of a firm.

“The special judge failed to consider the settled law in the context of vicarious criminal liability of Managing Directors/Directors and other officers of corporations that in the absence of specific statutory provisions making individual actors liable, there shall be no vicarious criminal liability imposed on any individual for acts of any corporation,” mentioned in the petition filed by Mittal.

“Commission of an offence by raising a legal fiction or by creating a vicarious liability in terms of provisions of a statute must be expressly stated. The Managing Director or Directors of a company cannot be said to have committed an offence merely because they are holders of offices,” according to it.

Besides Mittal, special CBI judge O P Saini had also summoned two others — Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia, who was then a director in one of accused company Sterling Cellular Ltd, and Asim Ghosh, then MD of accused firm Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd — whose name were not mentioned in the charge sheet.

Charges in spect case in NDA regime for cognisance

A local court will take up for cognisance the charge sheet in the allocation of additional spectrum during the NDA regime with CBI saying the then government’s decision had “brightened” the outcome of the IPO of one Bharti Airtel’s group companies.

The charge sheet has named three telecom firms — Bharti Cellular Ltd, Hutchison Max Pvt Ltd (now known as Vodafone India Ltd) and Sterling Cellular Ltd (now known as Vodafone Mobile Service Ltd) — as accused in the case in which the Department of  Telecommunications (DoT) had allegedly allocated the additional spectrum resulting in the loss of Rs 846 crore to the exchequer.

“Investigation has thus established that during the pendency of the aforesaid period of said IPO (Initial Public Offer) of M/s Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd, Late Pramod Mahajan, then MOC & IT, took decision on January 31, 2002 for allocating additional spectrum between 6.2 MHz upto 10 MHz (paired) in conspiracy with accused Shyamal Ghosh and the said three accused telecom companies and on the basis of recommendation of Shyamal Ghosh.
“The IPO of the said company (Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd) was closed on February 2, 2002 and, therefore, by getting the said approval for additional spectrum and by getting such news published in the newspaper, the risk factor of additional spectrum as mentioned in draft prospectus had been mitigated and brightened the outcome of the said IPO,” the charge sheet said.

In the charge sheet filed against three telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India, CBI has said that during the pendency of IPO of M/s Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd, a Bharti Group company, decision in this regard was taken by then Telecom Minister Late Pramod Mahajan, who was not named as accused as he is no more.

The charge sheet, filed before Special CBI judge O P Saini, on December 21 last year, has named former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh as an accused.

In the 57-page charge sheet, the CBI has booked all the accused for the offences of criminal conspiracy (120-B) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Giving details of the IPO, it said Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd had issued an IPO on January 28, 2002 and it was closed on February 2, 2002.

It said while seeking approvals for the IPO, the company had filed Draft Red Herring prospectus with Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and different stock exchanges.

The CBI said in their draft prospectus, it had “mentioned that the expansion and development of their network might be impacted by the limited availability of frequency spectrum which was mentioned as one of the risk factors”.

It said the decision regarding allocation of additional spectrum to these telecom firms was taken on January 31, 2002 in “undue haste” in pursuance to the criminal conspiracy hatched amongst Mahajan, Ghosh and these telecom companies.

Detailing the sequence of events relating to the IPO, the CBI said the approval for additional spectrum boosted the investment in the shares of the company through the IPO.

“It thereby proved to boost and encouraging factor for the investors to invest in the shares of the said company through said IPO,” it said, adding, “Investigation also revealed that substantial number of share applications were received on February 1, 2002 and February 2, 2002 immediately after the said decision dated January 31, 2002 taken for allotment of additional spectrum…”

Regarding the alleged conspiracy hatched among all the accused, it said, “Investigation has also revealed that various directors/promoters/representatives of the said three accused telecom companies had been meeting the accused public servants in connection with getting allocation of additional spectrum, for which said accused companies had not yet achieved the subscribers base as recommended by the Technical committee of the DoT.”

The CBI has not named Jagdish Rai Gupta, a former Deputy Director General (VAS) cell of DoT and a former Director of BSNL, who was named in the FIR, as accused in the case saying, “no evidence attributing any criminality on his part or his involvement in the alleged offence has surfaced during the investigation.”

Regarding Ghosh, the agency has said that in conspiracy with Mahajan and accused telecom firms, he abused his official position to show undue favour to the companies causing a loss of Rs 846.44 crore to the exchequer.



3G roaming services: HC asks Centre to form panel

The  Centre has been asked by the Delhi High Court to set up a committee to examine and decide the row between the Department of Telecommunications and the telecom operators over providing 3G roaming services to their customers outside their licensed areas.
The direction of the court came on telecom major Reliance Communication’s appeal against a single judge bench order to the Centre to take no coercive action against Bharti Airtel for providing 3G roaming services to its customers outside its licensed area.

Disposing of the plea by the Anil Ambani-led firm, a bench of chief justice D Murugesan and justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw the bench said, “Constitute a committee in a week to deal with it.”

The bench passed the order after considering Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Rajeeve Mehra’s submission that the Department of Telecom, for which he appeared, was willing to set up a panel to hear and decide the contentions of affected parties on the issue.

DoT will now constitute within a week a committee to go examine the issue of 3G roaming services being offered by telecom majors by entering into agreements with each other. The panel, after its constitution, would fix a date of hearing and after its conclusion, would pass an order within four weeks.

According to the bench, “As the time frame for each step was put forth by the ASG, the committee should adhere to it.” A single-judge bench had earlier on October 3 directed that no coercive steps would be taken against telecom major Bharti Airtel after it moved the court against a show-cause notice of DoT to it to stop providing 3G roaming services to its customers outside its licensed area.

DoT had alleged that telecom majors have been violating its terms by providing 3G roaming services to their customers outside their licensed areas by entering into arrangements among themselves.

2G: High Court asks Centre to respond to Essar”s plea

The Delhi High Court asked the Centre  to respond to the pleas of Essar Teleholdings Ltd and its promoters, Ravi and Anshuman Ruia, for quashing of the charges framed against them in a case linked to the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

Notice has been issued by Justice AK Pathak to the Ministry of Law, the CBI and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), seeking their replies to the petitions of the telecom major and its two promoters against a lower court order on framing of charges against them for their trial in the case.

The court issued notices to the Law Ministry and the DoT, rejecting their contentions that the same cannot be issued against them as they were not the parties to the case.

Appearing for the telecom firm, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi argued that DoT and the Law Ministry too be asked to respond to the petition as it is the case of the CBI that the company had cheated the DoT.

Rohatgi elaborated on his submission saying it was the Law Ministry which had opined that no case was made out against the telecom firm.

“If I have cheated something from DoT, let them file an affidavit that they have been cheated”

The telecom firm also sought to distinguish its case from those against the other accused in the 2G scam saying “we have a better case than the others as there is no Prevention of Corruption Act invoked against us.”

The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on January 22, 2013.

The telecom firm and its promoters have moved the high court against the May 25 order of the Special CBI court which had framed charges against the Ruias and Essar Teleholdings Ltd and also Essar Group director (Strategy and Planning) Vikas Saraf.

Besides, Ruias, Essar Teleholdings Ltd, the court had also framed charges against companies – Loop Telecom Pvt Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and their promoters Kiran Khaitan and her husband I P Khaitan under section 120 B read with 420 IPC.

Respond to government notice, court tells Airtel

The Delhi High Court Wednesday told telecom service provider Bharti Airtel to file within 60 days its response before DoT on a notice over 3G roaming services.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued the direction while disposing of Airtel’s plea challenging the show cause notice of department of telecommunications (DoT) to telecom firms asking them to stop 3G roaming services outside their licensed area.

Telling the company to file the response before DoT, the court asked the government not to take any coercive steps.

The court’s direction to Airtel came after Additional Solicitor General Rajeev Mehra assured the court that “if the company is willing to respond on the notice no coercive steps would be taken by the government”.

Justice Shakdher said: “The petition is disposed of. DoT to adjudicate the case after the telecom service provider company Bharti Airtel files its reply.”

As sought by the government, the court also asked Airtel to provide information of customers and revenue received by it by providing intra-circle roaming service.

The telecom operators have entered into roaming agreements with others to offer 3G services such as video calling, mobile TV and multi-media gaming in areas where they do not have 3G spectrum.

Challenging the DoT show cause notice issued Sep 28, Airtel moved the court on Oct 1 saying that “it adversely affects the interest of the customers and the subscribers who are benefiting from the 3G arrangements”.

Appearing for Airtel, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the notice was contrary to the interim orders passed by the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal that restrained the DoT from taking any coercive step against the companies.

The DoT last December asked the operators to terminate their 3G roaming agreements calling them illegal. The department also said that the government was losing revenue because of the agreements.