Bharti Airtel's Sunil Mittal summoned as accused in 2G case
New Delhi: Sunil Bharti Mittal, CMD of the country's biggest private telecom firm Bharti Cellular Ltd, and six others were on Tuesday summoned as accused by a Delhi court which said there were "enough material" to proceed against them in a corruption case relating to allocation of additional spectrum during the NDA regime in 2002.
Though Mittal's name was not mentioned in CBI's charge sheet as an accused, the court in its order said it was taking cognisance of the case and issuing summons to all the seven accused, including him, for April 11.
Mittal was "prima facie" in "control of affairs" of his company Bharti Cellular Ltd which was charged by the CBI, the court said.
Besides Mittal, Special CBI Judge O P Saini also summoned Essar Group Promoter Ravi Ruia, who was then a Director in one of the accused company Sterling Cellular Ltd and is already facing trial in another case arising out of the probe into the 2G spectrum allocation case, and Asim Ghosh, the then Managing Director of accused firm Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd.
The court also took cognisance of CBI's charge sheet filed 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) and summoned them as an accused in the case.
The court, in its two-page order, said that Mittal was the Chairman-cum-Managing Director of Bharti Cellular Ltd while Ruia was then a Director of Sterling Cellular Ltd and they used to chair the board meetings of their respective companies and the "acts of the companies are to be attributed and imputed to them."
"I also find that at the relevant time, Sunil Bharti Mittal was CMD of Bharti Cellular Ltd, Asim Ghosh was MD of Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd and Ravi Ruia was a Director in Sterling Cellular Ltd, 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 represented the directing mind and will of companies and their state of mind was that of the companies, the judge said, adding "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," it said, adding, "Accordingly, I take cognisance of the case. Issue summons to all seven accused for April 11, 2013."
The court, in its order, also said there was "enough incriminating material" on record to proceed against the accused who were named in the CBI 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 special judge said.
In the 57-page charge sheet, the CBI had booked 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.
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.
Regarding Shyamal Ghosh, CBI had said that in conspiracy with the then Telecom Minister Pramod 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 Mahajan, Shyamal Ghosh and these companies.