Special CBI court defers hearing on spectrum case

New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) A special CBI court in Delhi Wednesday adjourned the hearing on the summons issued to Bharti Airtel chief Sunil Mittal and Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia in an additional spectrum allocation case.

Special CBI judge O.P. Saini adjourned the hearing till Aug 26 after the defendant's counsel informed the court that the appeal challenging the trial court order summoning Mittal and Ruia as accused in the case was listed before the Supreme Court.

Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Ruia, sought a week's time from the court saying that the appeal against the summons was listed before the Supreme Court and that a clarification on the issue may take time.

The court had earlier warned Mittal and Ruia that it would go ahead with the trial in the additional spectrum allocation case if they fail to seek a clarification from the Supreme Court on the issue.

The special court summoned the top executives in connection with alleged excess spectrum allocation during the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance regime in 2002.

The trial court had issued summons 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 the Mumbai metro area.