2G: Court asks Mittal, Ruia to seek clarification from SC

Special CBI Judge O P Saini told both the corporate honchos to seek clarification from the apex court on this issue by August 14.

New Delhi: Bharti Cellular CMD Sunil Mittal and Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia were on Wednesday told by a Delhi court that there was "no stay" on the proceedings before it in the additional spectrum allocation scam case and they could seek clarification on this issue from the Supreme Court.

"There is no stay order as of now," Special CBI Judge O P Saini said and adjourned the case for August 14 while asking both of them to get it clarified by the apex court.

"If proceedings are stayed, why these accused (Mittal and Ruia) have appeared here? They also know in their heart of hearts that there is no stay," the judge said when lawyers for these two sought adjournment saying the apex court had postponed the hearing before trial court till further orders.

Mittal, Ruia and former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh, all of whom were summoned as accused in the case, appeared before the court today.

During the hearing, the defence counsel raised the issue and sought adjournment saying the apex court had postponed the proceedings before the trial court on the separate pleas filed by Mittal and Ruia while challenging the summoning order.

CBI, however, opposed their plea saying the proceedings had not been stayed by the apex court.

"It cannot be like that the matter will not be listed in the Supreme Court, so adjourn the proceedings here...It is their duty that they should get it clarified from the Supreme Court. They cannot sit in their homes and say the matter should be adjourned here," CBI prosecutor K K Goel said.

The apex court had in its April 26 interim order exempted Mittal and Ruia from personal appearance in the trial court and had said the hearing against them will remain "postponed" until further orders.

The order had come on Mittal and Ruia's pleas challenging the special court's March 19 order by which it had summoned them as accused in the case.

Mittal, Ruia and Canada-based NRI Asim Ghosh, who was then a Managing Director of accused firm Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd, were summoned as accused by the trial court. The summons to Asim Ghosh have not been served till date.

Mittal, Ruia and Asim Ghosh were not named as accused in CBI's charge sheet filed on December 21 last year.

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) are also accused in the case.

During the hearing today, senior advocate S V Raju, who appeared for Ruia, told the court that their matter is pending before the apex court and the proceedings should be adjourned for four weeks.

Advocate Sidharth Aggarwal, appearing for Mittal, argued the apex court had given an interim order postponing the proceedings before the trial court till further orders.

"From April 8 onwards, there is a postponement on the proceedings before the trial court," he said.

The defence counsel also said their matter has not come up for hearing before the apex court after it had formally issued a notice to CBI on their pleas.

The CBI prosecutor, however, opposed their plea saying, "I will suggest that proceedings should start here. The Supreme Court has not ordered that proceedings should stop here".

The court, after hearing arguments, directed Mittal and Ruia to seek clarification from the apex court saying "the matter is adjourned for August 14 during which you (Mittal and Ruia) will seek clarification from the Supreme Court about its order on the issue."

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