In a reprieve for Sunil Bharti Mittal, CMD of Bharti Airtel Limited, and Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered the 2G trial court to adjourn for seven weeks hearing in the case linked to allocation of additional 2G spectrum in 2002.
Admitting the petitions by Mittal and Ruia against the summoning orders by the trial court, a bench led by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir also issued formal notices to the CBI seeking explanation on how the summons against the corporate honchos were sustainable even though the agency’s chargesheet did not name them as accused.
While the CBI’s chargesheet had not named Mittal and Ruia, the duo along with former managing director of Hutchison Max (now Vodafone) Asim Ghosh were summoned by the trial court, saying there were enough material to proceed against them.
Calling them as “minds” and “alter egos” of the companies, the 2G court had noted that at the relevant time, they used to chair board meetings and controlled the affairs of their company. Mittal and Ruia challenged this order contending the trial court had wrongly imputed criminality on them.
Agreeing to examine the question of law in the given facts, the bench asked CBI to file its response within four weeks. It gave Mittal and Ruia three weeks time thereafter to file their replies to the CBI’s stand.
In the meantime, the bench said, the trial court will simply adjourn the matter for at least seven weeks, virtually exempting both of them from their personal appearance before the trial court.
The bench had on Thursday started hearing the case after shooting down a preliminary objection raised by the CBI and NGO ‘CPIL’ - one of the petitioners in the 2G case. Both had sought transfer of the petitions by Mittal and Ruia to the coordinate bench which is already monitoring the 2G case.