A Delhi court on Tuesday summoned as accused Bharti Cellular CMD Sunil Bharti Mittal, Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia and five others in a case relating to alleged irregularities in allocation of additional spectrum to Airtel and Vodafone during the NDA regime.
Besides Mr. Mittal and Mr. Ruia, the court issued summons against Asim Ghosh, who was the then MD of accused firm Hutchison Max Telecom and former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh for April 11.
The CBI in its charge sheet had only named Mr. Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms Bharti Cellular, Hutchison Max Telecom (now known as Vodafone India) and Sterling Cellular (now known as Vodafone Mobile Service), but Mr. Mittal, Mr. Ruia and Mr. Asim Ghosh were not arrayed as accused in the case by the agency.
Special CBI Judge O.P. Saini issued summons against Mr. Mittal, Mr. Ruia, who was then a director in Sterling Cellular, and Mr. Asim Ghosh saying they were “prima facie in control of affairs of the respective companies”.
“I also find that at the relevant time, Sunil Bharti Mittal was chairman-cum-managing director of Bharti Cellular, Asim Ghosh was Managing Director of Hutchison Max Telecom and Ravi Ruia was a director in Sterling Cellular, who used to chair the meetings of its board. In that capacity they were/are prima facie in control of affairs of the respective companies.
“As such they represent the directing mind and will of each company and their state of mind is the state of mind of the companies,” Judge Saini said.
“They are/were ‘alter-ego’ of their respective companies. In this fact/situation, the acts of the companies are to be attributed and imputed to them. Consequently, I find enough material on record to proceed against them also,” he said.
Mr. Ruia is also facing trial in a case arising out of the probe into the 2G spectrum allocation scam.
In the 57-page charge sheet, the CBI has booked Mr. Shyamal Ghosh and the three telecom firms for the offences of criminal conspiracy (120-B) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
In its two-page order, the court said that there was “enough incriminating material” on record to proceed against Mr. Shyamal Ghosh and the three telecom companies which were arrayed as an accused in the CBI’s charge sheet filed on December 21 last year.
“I have carefully gone through the copy of FIR, charge sheet, statement of witnesses and documents on record. On the perusal of the record, I am satisfied that there is enough incriminating material on record to proceed against the accused persons,” the judge said, adding “accordingly, I take cognisance of the case. Issue summons to all seven accused for April 11, 2013.”
The court had on March 8 pulled up the CBI for only “blaming” the government servants and not naming any company officials in the charge sheet after CBI prosecutor K.K. Goyal had said they had tried their best to find out if any company officials were part of the conspiracy but they could not find any body’s name.
The court had earlier directed the CBI to place before it documents relating to resolution passed by the three firms, including Airtel and Vodafone, for seeking additional spectrum during the NDA regime.
The CBI had told the court that no resolution was passed by these accused firms for applying for additional spectrum.
The CBI, in its charge sheet, has named the three telecom companies as accused in the case in which DoT had allegedly allocated additional spectrum resulting in a loss of Rs. 846 crore to the exchequer.
The CBI has not named Jagdish Rai Gupta, a former deputy director-general (VAS) of DoT and a former director of BSNL, who figured 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 Mr. Shyamal Ghosh, the CBI had alleged that in conspiracy with the then Telecom MinisterPramod Mahajan and accused telecom firms, he abused his official position to show undue favour to the firms causing a loss of Rs. 846.44 crore to the exchequer.
The CBI, in its charge sheet, had said that the decision regarding allocation of additional spectrum to these telecom firms was taken in “undue haste” in pursuance of the conspiracy hatched by Mr. Mahajan, Mr. Shyamal Ghosh and these companies.