Airtel chairman, Essar promoter summoned in 2G case

New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) A Delhi court Tuesday summoned Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal and Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia in a case relating to alleged irregularities in allocation of excess spectrum during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.

Also summoned were former telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh and Asim Ghose, formerly with Hutchison Max Telecom, now known as Vodafone India.
Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge O.P. Saini issued summons for April 11 after taking cognizance of the charge sheet filed against mobile firms Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Sterling Cellular for the alleged irregularities.
On Dec 21 last year, the CBI named Shyamal Ghosh and the three telecom firms as accused in the 57-page charge sheet for criminal conspiracy as also under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act for causing a loss of about Rs.846 crore to the exchequer.
The agency told the court that additional spectrum was allotted July 17, 2002, to Bharti Cellular (now Bharti Airtel) and Sterling Cellular (now Vodafone Mobile Service) for the Delhi metro area, and Hutchison Max (now Vodafone India) for Mumbai metro area.
The late Bharatiya Janata Party leader Pramod Mahajan was the telecom minister then.
The judge said Sunil Mittal was chairman-cum-managing director of Bharti, Asim Ghosh was managing director of Hutchison Max and Ruia a director in Sterling Cellular – and they were all prima facie in control of affairs of the respective companies.
“As such they represent the directing mind and will of each company and their state of mind is the state of mind of the companies. “They are/were the ‘alter-ego’ of their respective companies,” judge Saini said.
“In this fact/situation, the acts of the companies are to be attributed and imputed to them. Consequently, I find enough material on record to proceed against them.”
Regarding Shyamal Ghosh, the CBI alleged that he had abused his position, entered into a criminal conspiracy with minister Mahajan and had caused a loss to the exchequer.
The judge had earlier taken exception to the CBI only blaming senior government officials for the alleged wrongdoings and not naming any of the company officials in the official charges.
The probe by the CBI followed another case pertaining to allocation of spectrum in 2008 under which 19 people and three companies were charged. The case is on trial.