2G: CBI chargesheet against Ravikant, Anshuman Ruia and 3 others

Arun S. New Delhi | Updated on December 13, 2011 Published on December 12, 2011

Names 3 cos; court to decide on future action on Dec 17

The CBI on Monday filed before a Special Court the second supplementary chargesheet in the 2G spectrum case against five individuals including Essar Group’s Mr Ravikant Ruia and Mr Anshuman Ruia.

The others named as accused in the 106-page chargesheet include Mr Vikash Saraf, Director (Strategy and Planning), Essar Group as well as Loop Telecom promoters Ms Kiran Khaitan (reportedly related to the Ruias) and her husband Mr Ishwari Prasad Khaitan.

Besides, three companies, including Loop Telecom Pvt Ltd (earlier, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Teleholdings Ltd are also named. The agency has levelled charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy against all.

The chargesheet -- with 398 files, over 22,000 documents and 100 prosecution witnesses -- was brought to the Special Court this afternoon in five trunks.

The Special Court will decide on December 17 its further course of action, that is, whether to take cognisance of the chargesheet or to assign it to some other court.

The allegation against Essar is that though it had substantial stake in Vodafone Essar, it set up Loop Telecom as a front company in violation of the existing norms to illegally obtain additional spectrum. Essar has denied all charges.

Under Unified Access Services Licences (UASL) guidelines, a company cannot hold over 10 per cent stake in two entities offering telecom services in the same circle. Essar had nearly 33 per cent stake in Vodafone Essar and hence could not own more than 10 per cent in Loop. Essar has been maintaining that it had complied with Clause 8 of UASL guidelines as it had only 2.15 per cent holding in Loop Telecom during the time of the application (for 2G licence) and therefore it did not violate the norms.

The counsel for Essar Mr Mahesh Agarwal said since it appears that the charges are only that of cheating and conspiracy, there is no allegation of corruption. The case is not a part of the 2G scam as the allegation is only of contractual violation, he said. He added that even the allegation of cheating is contrary to the ‘opinion’ of the Ministries of Law and Justice as well as Corporate Affairs. Importantly, the Department of Telecom has neither complained of a Clause 8 violation nor cheating as alleged by the CBI, an Essar statement said.

The Corporate Affairs Ministry had reportedly opined that Essar Group’s stake in Loop Telecom was below 10 per cent. The CBI had referred the case to the Attorney General who in turn was reportedly in favour of filing the charge sheet. But this was later reportedly overruled by the then Corporate Affairs Minister Mr Salman Khurshid.

Since the charges were only of cheating and criminal conspiracy, any Magistrate court can take cognisance of the matter, legal sources said. But the CBI chose to file the chargesheet before the Special Court since the latter has been exclusively set up under the directions of the Supreme Court to hear the 2G spectrum cases. The Special Court will now decide on taking cognisance of the chargesheet.

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Published on December 12, 2011
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