Supreme Court today rejected a plea of Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia, facing trial in a case arising out of the 2G scam probe, to go abroad for business purposes, saying it does not want “to take chances”.
“We have allowed a person to go abroad but he never came back. He was no less big than you in monetary terms. We don’t want to take chances now. We are now once bitten twice shy. We are not going to give liberty to anyone,” a bench of Justices J S Khehar and Arun Mishra said without naming the person.
The apex court dismissed the petition of Ruia who wanted to visit United Kingdom, United States, Canada and UAE for business purposes.
The bench said the final arguments in the case was over and judgement is awaited, and in such a scenario, it cannot allow Ruia to go abroad.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Ruia, said he cannot be allowed to suffer “if some Mr X has cheated the court.”
To this, the bench said “it is because you are also similarly situated.”
“He has also given the details of his assets and undertaking, but now he says I have sold my assets in India,” the bench said.
Singhvi said that Ruia is an NRI and holds a residency visa of UAE and he has visited abroad 43 times for several reasons during the pendency of trial but never ever violated the bail conditions.
While giving details of Ruia’s businesses in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Saudi Arabia, the senior advocate said his elder brother could stand surety for his return and can even go to jail if he does not return.
“Give us details of your businesses in India. We have access to your assets in India, not abroad,” the bench said.
Singhvi said Ruia was accused for co-conspiracy in the case arising out of 2G scam and facing charges under section 420 of IPC and not Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).
“My case is at a higher pedastal. I have never violated any bail condition. I have a better track record,” he said.
Special Public Prosecutor Senior advocate Anand Grover opposed Ruia’s plea and said he always wanted to be an exception and never followed the norms of giving details of his itinerary.
Grover said Ruia “always believed himself to be an exceptional case. He doesn’t want to give any documents and reasons for travelling abroad. He cannot be allowed to become an exception.”
He said Ruia has never told what relation he has with Essar and always wanted to be treated differentially with other accused.
The special public prosecutor further said that CBI was unsure whether he will ever come back as extradition these days is a “very difficult task”.
“What is offence in India is not an offence in other countries. There is no way we can bring him back,” Grover said, opposing Ruia’s bail plea. The bench then dismissed Ruia’s plea.
Essar Group promoters Ravi and Anshuman Ruia, Loop Telecom promoters Kiran Khaitan, her husband I P Khaitan and Vikash Saraf are facing trial in the case, along with three telecom firms — Loop Telecom Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Tele Holdings Ltd.
The five individuals accused, who are out on bail, have denied the charges levelled by CBI. The three firms have also refuted these allegations.
CBI had listed these accused in a charge sheet on December 12, 2011, alleging they had cheated the DoT by using Loop Telecom as a “front” to secure 2G licences in 2008.
On May 25, 2012, the court had framed charges against all the accused under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with section 420 (cheating) of the IPC, while the substantive charge of cheating was made out only against Saraf.