The lower court had also summoned Asim Ghosh, the then MD of accused firm Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd.
Bharti Cellular Ltd CMD Sunil Bharti Mittal and Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia on Wednesday assailed in the Supreme Court the lower court court summoning them as accused in a corruption case related to allocation of additional spectrum during the NDA regime in 2002.
Mittal and Ruia, whose names were not mentioned in CBI’s charge sheet as accused, were, however, summoned on March 19, last year by the special CBI court saying there was “enough material” to proceed against them in the case.
Besides them, the lower court had also summoned Asim Ghosh, the then Managing Director of accused firm Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd. Ghosh was also not named as accused in the charge sheet.
The trial court had said Mittal, Ghosh and Ruia used to chair board meetings and “were/are prima facie in control of affairs of the respective companies” and “they are/were ‘alter-ego’ of their respective companies.”
“It is a curious case,” senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Mittal and Ruia, told a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu.
He also referred to various apex court judgements to buttress his plea that the alleged culpability of a company cannot be fastened on its director or an employee if there is no prima facie evidence to support the allegation.
The court would resume hearing tomorrow in the case.
Earlier, Mittal, on April 1, last year, had approached the Supreme Court challenging the March 19 order of the special 2G court summoning him as an accused in the case.
CBI had filed the charge sheet against former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms 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).
Later, the lower court, while taking cognizance of the charge sheet, issued summons to Mittal, Ruia and Asim Ghosh also saying they were “prima facie” in “control of affairs” of their companies which were named in the charge sheet by the CBI in the case.
CBI had booked Shyamal Ghosh and the three telecom firms for the offences of criminal conspiracy (120-B) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The probe agency said the three accused telecom firms companies were allocated additional spectrum resulting in an alleged loss of Rs 846 crore to the exchequer.
Regarding Ghosh, CBI had said that in conspiracy with the then Telecom Minister Pramod Mahajan and accused telecom firms, he abused his official position to show undue favour to the firms causing a loss of Rs 846.44 crore to the exchequer.