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Delhi court summons Airtel head in 2G case

New Delhi, Mar 19, 2013, DHNS: 2:04 IST
Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Mittal. PTI Image
A Delhi court on Tuesday summoned Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Bharti Airtel, the telecom company with the largest consumer base, and six others to face trial for allegedly causing a loss of Rs 846 crore to the exchequer through allocation of additional spectrum during the regime of then telecom minister Pramod Mahajan.

Along with Mittal, the court also directed Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia, who was then a director in one of the accused company Sterling Cellular and Asim Ghosh, the then managing director of Hutchison Max Telecom to appear before it.

The CBI had filed a charge sheet in the matter in December but did not name either Mittal or Ruia as accused and instead had listed their companies as accused. Ruia is also facing trial in the 2G case.

In a statement, Essar, however, said, “We are consulting our legal experts and exploring all legal options and will in due course take up appropriate legal proceedings to challenge this order.”

Taking cognizance of the charge sheet, the trial judge said, Mittal as the chairman-cum-managing director of Bharti Cellular and Ruia as a director of Sterling Cellular used to chair the board meetings of their respective companies and the “acts of the companies are to be attributed and imputed to them.

“They were/are prima facie in control of affairs of the respective companies,” the judge said, also noting that they were or are alter-egos of their respective companies.

The court also decided to summon then telecom secretary and former IAS officer Shyamal Ghosh, besides two officials of Vodafone-owned Hutchison Max and Sterling Cellular respectively, already named as accused by the CBI.

All of them were ordered to appear personally before the court on April 11. The CBI invoked the charges of criminal conspiracy under Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code and various other offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The CBI alleged that additional spectrum was allocated to these firms on July 17, 2002, following the conspiracy hatched among Mahajan and others. The charge sheet was filed in pursuance to the nod given by the Supreme Court to the CBI on November 29, last.
However, Telecom Watchdog filed a protest petition before the trial court on November 17, 2011, against the charge sheet for failure of the CBI to name Mittal and Ruia as accused.

The FIR said the accused abused their official position following conspiracy with the telecos and caused undue cumulative pecuniary advantage of Rs 508.22 crore to the beneficiaries and corresponding loss to the government exchequer by only charging additional one per cent AGR (adjusted gross revenue) for allotting additional spectrum from 6.2 MHz upto 10 MHz (paired) instead of charging additional two per cent AGR as per existing norms.

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