New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday postponed the proceedings in the Special CBI court against Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia till April 16, who has been summoned as an accused in a corruption case related to allocation of additional 2G spectrum in 2002. A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir issued notice to CBI seeking its response on the petition filed by Ruia challenging the Special CBI Court's order summoning him as an accused in the case.
"In the meantime, hearing before the Special Judge/CBI (2G spectrum cases), New Delhi will be postponed till Tuesday (April 16)," the bench also comprising justices AR Dave and Vikramajit Sen said. The bench said it was passing the same order as it had delivered while hearing the petition filed by Sunil Bharti Mittal, CMD of Bharti Cellular Limited, who has also appealed against the trial court order.
The apex court said it will hear Ruia's petition along with that of Mittal on April 15. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Ruia, said the trial court order should be stayed as it was totally wrong. Ruia had moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday, a day after the court postponed the proceedings in the Special CBI court against Mittal till April 16, whose counsel had dubbed the order of Special CBI judge as a "complete misdirection of law".
While CBI had submitted that evidence has been "found evidence against the CMD" during investigation in the case, the court had then questioned the probe agency as to why it had not named him as an accused in the charge sheet when there was evidence against him. Ruia, whose name was not mentioned as an accused in CBI's FIR and charge sheet filed before the special 2G court, had contended in his appeal that if true and corrects facts about the affairs of Sterling Cellular Ltd, in which he was a director at that time, were placed before the trial court, such a summoning order may not have been passed.
In his petition, Ruia said it appeared the only basis for summoning him was that as he had chaired some of the meetings of the company, thus he was an "alter-ego" and "directing mind of the will" of Sterling Cellular Ltd. Ruia also said he was not holding any executive position in the firm and at the relevant time, Essar Group was only a minority shareholder in Sterling Cellular Ltd which was made an accused by CBI in its charge sheet filed in the trial court on December 21, 2012.
He said that such a basis, where any director is held liable for the acts of a firm, is contrary to the well established legal position. The CBI had filed the charge sheet against former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom companies - 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).
Special CBI Judge OP Saini, while summoning these accused on April 11 after taking cognisance of the charge sheet, had also asked Ruia, Mittal and Asim Ghosh, the then managing director of accused firm Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd, to appear before it.
The court had, in its two-page order, said Mittal was the Chairman-cum-MD 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".