Supreme Court dismisses Essar promoters plea in 2G case

By: | Published: September 29, 2015 11:11 AM

Essar moved the apex court against the dismissal of its plea for a joint trial by the special 2G court. The lower court dismissed the plea in September 2014.

Supreme Courton 2g spectrum caseSupreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea by Essar Teleholdings Ltd and its promoters, for a joint trial in the 2G spectrum case, at a lower court. (Reuters)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea by Essar Teleholdings Ltd and its promoters, for a joint trial in the 2G spectrum case, at a lower court.

Essar Teleholdings Ltd and its promoters – Ravi and Anshuman Ruia – had challenged  the special CBI court’s jurisdiction to hold trial against them in the case arising out of the probe in the 2G spectrum scam. Hopwever, the CBI had alleged them of trying to scuttle the trial that was in an advanced stage, as the firm and Ruias challenged the magisterial court’s jurisdiction saying they have not been charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA). The CBI also opposed their second plea to “assimilate” the trial of former telecom minister A. Raja, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) member of parliament K. Kanimozhi and others, and the one against itself, which would require the trial to begin again.

Essar moved the apex court against the dismissal of its plea for a joint trial by the special 2G court. The lower court dismissed the plea in September 2014.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justices A K Sikri and R Nariman, dismissed their petitions for a joint trial with the main accused Andimuthu Raja, former telecommunications minister, and Kanimozhi, another accused in the case.  The judges also dismissed the company and its promoter’s plea asking the apex court to shift the trial to a magistrate court, as they were not charged for anti-corruption, while the special court is in charge of hearing cases related to corruption charges in the case.

Raja and Kanimozhi are facing charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, faking documents, abusing official position, criminal misconduct by public servant and taking bribes—offences which are covered by the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code.

Essar’s senior counsel Harish Salve had submitted that their case should be heard afresh by the magistrate’s court since they were charged with the offence of cheating under the IPC and CBI had not made out a case of corruption under Prevention of Corruption Act.

Salve told the court that if the case against Essar, along with Essar group’s vice chairman Ravikant Ruia and group promoter Anshuman Ruia, was for cheating – Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 – then it would have to go to a magistrate, and not special judge O.P. Saini.

The plea arises from a supplementary chargesheet filed by the top probe agency CBI in 2011 against Essar, Loop Telecom Ltd and the Ruias, amongst others for criminal conspiracy and cheating. Special judge O.P. Saini, trying the accused in the 2G cases, took cognisance of the chargesheet in December 2011.

Essar challenged this cognisance order of the special court, along with the special court’s powers, before the Supreme Court. The apex court, in July 2013, ruled that the special judge had the jurisdiction to take cognisance of cases which pertained to the 2G scam.

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