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CBI digs heels on summons.

Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal.

THE Central Bureau of Investigation ( CBI), which had not charge- sheeted Bharti Cellular Limited chairman and managing director Sunil Bharti Mittal and Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia in a corruption case related to allocation of additional spectrum during the National Democratic Alliance rule in 2002, on Wednesday defended the decision of a Special CBI Judge to summon them.

Senior advocate K. K. Venugopal, appearing for the 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 offence of a company also." Venugopal told a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India H. L. Dattu that " 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," he added.

The CBI's new stand is a setback for Mittal as there was a belief that he could be let off with serious difference of opinion emerging earlier in the agency top brass on whether there was enough material to prosecute him. While investigating officers felt there was evidence and he should be put on trial, the then- director A. P. Singh differed.

Referring to records, Venugopal said that the CBI has evidence that Mittal met various persons to get additional spectrum for the company ( Bharti Cellular) but the same kind of proof is 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 a non- governmental organisation, said that there is enough material to summon Mittal in the case.

The court would continue to hear the matter on Thursday.

Earlier, Ruia had said that he was not connected with the day- to- day affairs of the accused company Sterling Cellular and was wrongly summoned in the case.

Prior to it, Mittal had assailed the lower court order summoning him as accused in the case.

CBI defends decision to summon Mittal & Ruia in spectrum case

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Dec 4, 2014
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