New Delhi: A day after Sunil Bharti Mittal, CMD of Bharti Cellular Ltd, got a temporary relief in a graft case related to allocation of additional 2G spectrum in 2002, Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia also moved the Supreme Court challenging the Special CBI Court's order summoning him as an accused in the case.
Ruia, whose name was not mentioned as an accused in CBI's FIR and chargesheet filed before the special 2G court, moved the apex court contending 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.
He said in his petition that it appeared that 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 the CBI in its chargesheet 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 chargesheet 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 for April 11 after taking cognisance of the chargesheet, had also asked Ruia, Mittal and Asim Ghosh, the then managing director of accused firm Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd, to appear before it.
An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir had on Monday postponed till April 16 the proceedings in the trial court in the case while hearing a plea filed by Mittal.
During the hearing on Monday, the bench had questioned the CBI as to why it had not named Mittal as an accused in the chargesheet when there was evidence against him. The bench also wanted to know why section 319 of CrPC was applied by the special court to proceed against other persons, not named as accused in the chargesheet.
The special 2G court had summoned Ruia, Mittal and Asim Ghosh, whose names were not mentioned as an accused in CBI's chargesheet, saying there was "enough material" to proceed against them in the case. The trial court had said that Mittal, Ruia and Ghosh were "prima facie" in "control of affairs" of their companies which were named in the chargesheet by the CBI in the case.
The 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".