Mittal, Ruia appear in Delhi court in a 2G spectrum case

Bharti CMD Sunil Mittal and Essar group promoter Ravi Ruia today appeared in a Delhi court which posted the matter for further proceedings on April 16.

Sunil Mittal and Ravi Ruia have been summoned as accused in the additional 2G spectrum allocation case.

Mittal’s counsel placed before special CBI judge O P Saini the order passed by the Supreme Court postponing till April 16 the proceedings in the case.

Besides Mittal and Ruia, former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh, who was summoned by the special CBI judge, also appeared in pursuance to the summons issued against him.

The court, after going through the apex court’s order on separate petitions filed by Mittal and Ruia, listed the matter on April 16 for further proceedings. The apex court will hear their pleas on April 15.

The special court had on March 19 summoned Mittal, Ruia, who was then a Director in one of the accused companies Sterling Cellular Ltd and Asim Ghosh, the then Managing Director of accused firm Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd.

Their names were not mentioned in the charge sheet filed by CBI on December 21, last year in the case.

Besides the three, the court had also summoned as accused Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms Bharti Cellular Ltd, Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd (now known as Vodafone India Ltd) and Sterling Cellular Ltd (now known as Vodafone Mobile Service Ltd).

The three telecom firms were represented by their counsel in the court today.

CBI, in its charge sheet, had named the three telecom companies as accused in the case relating to the Department of Telecommunication allocating additional spectrum which had allegedly resulted in a loss of Rs 846 crore to the exchequer.

During the proceedings, the court was told that the summons against Canada-based NRI Asim Ghosh had “remained unserved”.

Ruia had moved the apex court a day after it had postponed till April 16 the proceedings in the special CBI court against Mittal.

When CBI had opposed the plea of Mittal in the Supreme Court saying evidence has been found against him during investigation in the case, the apex court had questioned the probe agency as to why he was not named in the charge sheet.

CBI had filed the charge sheet on December 21 last year against former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms — Bharti Cellular Ltd, Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd (now known as Vodafone India Ltd) and Sterling Cellular Ltd (now known as Vodafone Mobile Service Ltd).

Though Mittal, Ruia and Asim Ghosh were not mentioned in CBI’s charge sheet as accused, the special court in its order had said it was taking cognisance of the case and issuing summons to all the seven accused, including them, for April 11.

The special court had said that Mittal, Ruia and Asim Ghosh were “prima facie” in “control of affairs” of their respective companies which were charge sheeted by CBI for offences of criminal conspiracy (Sec 120-B) under the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

SC defers proceedings against Sunil Mittal in 2G case

The Supreme Court today postponed till April 16 the proceedings in the Special CBI court against Sunil Bharti Mittal, CMD of Bharti Cellular Limited, who has been summoned as an accused in a corruption case related to allocation of additional 2G spectrum in 2002.

The CBI, which told the apex court that investigation into the case has “found evidence against the CMD”, was asked to file a short affidavit along with the police report, i.e., the charge sheet by Thursday.

“In the meantime, hearing before the Special Judge/CBI (2G spectrum cases), New Delhi will be postponed till Tuesday (April 16),” a Bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said.

The Bench said Mittal will file the rejoinder to the CBI affidavit by Saturday and the matter will be heard by it on April 15.

The day’s proceedings began with the Bench, also comprising justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen, asking the CBI as to how Mittal has been summoned as an accused when his name was not there in the charge sheet.

Mittal’s counsel and senior advocate Harish Salve dubbed the order of Special CBI judge O P Saini as a “complete misdirection of law”.

However, senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, said the court has a power under section 319 of the CrPC to proceed against other persons, not named as accused in charge sheet, appearing to be guilty of the offence.

He said along with the charge sheet, statements recorded during the probe have been annexed and the special court took cognizance of them to summon Mittal as an accused in the case.

 

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.