CBI defends summoning of Sunil Mittal by trial court in spectrum case

CBI, which had not charged Bharti Cellular Ltd CMD Sunil Bharti Mittal and Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia, today defended in the Supreme Court the decision of a Special CBI judge to summon them in a corruption case related to allocation of additional spectrum during NDA rule in 2002.

Raj Saiya December 03, 2014 21:06:27 IST
CBI defends summoning of Sunil Mittal by trial court in spectrum case

New Delhi: CBI, which had not charged Bharti Cellular Ltd CMD Sunil Bharti Mittal and Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia, today defended in the Supreme Court the decision of a Special CBI judge to summon them in a corruption case related to allocation of additional spectrum during NDA rule in 2002.

"The fact that they were the controlling minds of the company are the matter of evidence. They have been summoned and they have an opportunity to seek discharge before the trial court," the counsel for the probe agency told a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu.

The bench, also comprising justices MB Lokur and AK Sikri, is hearing petitions seeking setting aside of an order of the Special CBI Judge by which Ruia and Mittal, whose name did not figure in CBI's charge sheet as accused, were summoned on March 19 last year. The lower court had said that there was
"enough material" to proceed against them in the case.

Senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for CBI, said, "we start with the assumption that there is a prima facie evidence against the accused companies. A person or a group of persons, who have been the guiding force behind a company, are responsible for the alleged criminal act of the company."

Managing Director and officials are the mind and nerve centre of a company and "guilty minds of directors or managers constitute the criminal offense of a company also", he said.

Referring to records, he said the agency has evidence that Mittal met various persons to get additional spectrum for the company (Bharti Cellular Ltd) but the same kind of proof was not available with regard to Ruia.

"I did not say that he (Ruia) cannot be proceeded against," he said, adding there are various options including that the agency can be asked to investigate further.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for an NGO, said there was enough material to summon Sunil Mittal in the case.

"The Investigating Officer, the Superintendent of Police, the DIG and the Joint Director of CBI have been of the opinion that there was enough material to prosecute Mittal. He had been in liaison with government officials and others," Bhushan said.

"The Special CBI Judge was right in issuing summons. Even in the absence of specific materials, it can be said that the act of the companies have been done by MD and others", he said.

PTI

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