Corporate Mar 20, 2013
New Delhi: A special CBI court has summoned as accused Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman-cum-managing director of Bharti Cellular, Asim Ghosh, managing director of Hutchison Max Telecom and Ravi Ruia, Director Sterling Cellular Limited and taken cognisance of the charge-sheet filed by the CBI against India's leading telecom companies Airtel and Vodafone alleging corruption and criminal conspiracy in the allocation of additional spectrum in 2002.
The others accused in the case are former Telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh and the three telecom companies Bharti Cellular Limited, Hutchison Max Telecom, Sterling Cellular Limited.
Passing the order CBI judge said "I have gone through the copy of the FIR, chargesheet, statement of witnesses and documents on record. On perusal of the record, I am satisfied that there is enough incriminating material on record to proceed against the accused persons."
"I also find that at that 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 of Sterling Cellular Limited, who used to chair the meetings of its board. In that capacity, they were/or 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. They are/or were "alter ego" of their respective companies. In this fact situation the acts the companies are to be attributed and imputed to them. "
All the seven accused have been summoned to court on April 11, next date of hearing.
The charge-sheet that was filed by the CBI in December 2012 had named only the government conspirators - the late Pramod Mahajan, who was then Telecom Minister and the former telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh, but not named any promoter or executives of the accused the telecom companies.
Quoting from the charge-sheet: "Investigation has revealed that Shyamal Ghosh, then chairman of Telecom Commission and Secretary DoT, in conspiracy with late Pramod Mahajan, then telecom minister and the accused beneficiary companies i.e Hutchison Max and Sterling Cellular andBharti Airtel Ltdthrough their representatives, abused his official position as public person and showed undue favour which caused loss of Rs 846.44 crores to the government exchequer and corresponding undue gain to the aforesaid telecom companies."
(Hutchison Max is now Vodafone India Ltd and Sterling Cellular is now Vodafone Mobile Service Ltd).
According to CBI, Mahajan had alloted additional spectrum to these companies 'in haste' and in violation of the then telecom policy by charging additional one per cent of AGR (adjusted gross revenue) instead of charging the required additional two per cent of AGR for allocation of additional spectrum.
At a earlier hearing, the special CBI judge, pulling up the CBI for not naming the heads of the telecom companies in the charge-sheet had asked, "In a conspiracy, there must be two parties. You (CBI)are blaming only the government servants. Why not the private persons? Who did the conspiracy with the government servants?"
In response, theCBI prosecutor had said that they had tried their best to find out if any company officials were part of the conspiracy but could not find anybody's name.
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