New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear Bharti Cellular Limited CMD Sunil Bharti Mittal's plea challenging the March 19 order of the special court summoning him as an accused in a corruption case related to allocation of additional 2G spectrum during the 2002 NDA regime. A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir agreed to give an early hearing and posted the matter to April 8.
The matter was brought before the apex court during mentioning time in which the counsel appearing for Mittal sought an early hearing as he has been summoned to be present in the 2G court on April 11. Mittal, whose name was not mentioned in the CBI's chargesheet as an accused, was summoned by the special court saying there were "enough material" to proceed against him in the case.
Special CBI judge OP 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 chargesheet.
CBI had filed the chargesheet on December 21 2012 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). They all were also summoned for April 11 by the court.
The court had said that Mittal, Ruia and Asim Ghosh were "prima facie" in "control of affairs" of their companies which were named in the chargesheet by the CBI in the case. The 2G court, in its two-page order, had 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".
The special judge had said, "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 had 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."
In the 57-page chargesheet, 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 CBI, in its chargesheet, has named the three telecom companies as accused in the case in which the Department of Telecommunications 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.