Telecom Scam: Court to Consider Chargesheet on Feb 11

A Delhi court today fixed February 11 for considering taking cognisance of charge sheet filed against Airtel, Vodafone and others for alleged irregularities in allocation of additional spectrum to them during the NDA regime.

Special CBI Judge O P Saini, who was scheduled to take up the matter today, deferred it after CBI prosecutor A K Singh said that the agency has filed 143 sets of documents related to the case in the court during the day and he needs some time to go through them.

The prosecutor told the court that these documents should be taken on record.

The court allowed the plea and fixed February 11 for considering taking cognisance on the charge sheet in which former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms -- Bharti Cellular Ltd, Hutchison Max Pvt Ltd (now known as Vodafone India Ltd) and Sterling Cellular Ltd (now known as Vodafone Mobile Service Ltd) -- have been named as an accused.

"It is submitted by the public prosecutor that two boxes of documents have been placed on record today itself apart from the earlier documents. He requires some time and accordingly he submits that adjournment for atleast a week be given.

"... Put up for consideration on cognisance on February 11," the judge said.

In the 57-page charge sheet, the CBI has booked all the accused for the offences of criminal conspiracy (120-B) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

During the brief hearing today, the prosecutor told the judge that they have filed all the documents related to the case before the court.

"Please give time as I have to go through the documents. There are two boxes of documents. I don't know if there is something important in it or not," he said.

The CBI, in the charge sheet filed on December 21, 2012, has named the three telecom companies as accused in the case in which the Department of Telecom had allegedly allocated additional spectrum resulting in a loss of Rs 846 crore to the exchequer.

The court had earlier also deferred the order on the issue after the CBI had submitted that they need over two weeks' time to file some more documents before it.

The CBI has not named Jagdish Rai Gupta, a former Deputy Director General (VAS) cell of DoT and a former Director of BSNL, who was named in the FIR, as accused in the case saying "no evidence attributing any criminality on his part or his involvement in the alleged offence has surfaced during the investigation."

Regarding Ghosh, the CBI had said that in conspiracy with the then Telecom Minister Pramod Mahajan and accused telecom firms, he had abused his official position to show undue favour to the companies causing a loss of Rs 846.44 crore to the exchequer.

The CBI, in its charge sheet, had said that the decision regarding allocation of additional spectrum to these telecom firms was taken in "undue haste" in pursuance to the conspiracy hatched amongst Mahajan, Ghosh and these companies.

"Investigation has thus established that the aforesaid decision dated January 31, 2002 (regarding allocation of additional spectrum) was taken in undue haste pursuant to the criminal conspiracy hatched amongst the accused public servants, late Pramod Mahajan, the then MOC&IT, Shyamal Ghosh, the then secretary DoT and said accused telecom companies," the charge sheet said.

During the hearing, the CBI moved an application before the court saying they have received a request from the Joint Communication and Electronic staff (JCES) of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) asking them to return some documents which the agency had seized during investigation in the case.

The prosecutor said these documents have not been relied upon by CBI and they would give the same to the JCES subject to a condition that the same may be returned to the agency whenever required.

The court allowed the CBI's plea and directed the JCES not to destroy these documents without its prior permission.

"In view of the submission, the prayer is allowed. The documents as seized by the CBI are allowed to be returned to the concerned authorities with a condition that they would be submitted to the CBI or to the court whenever required.

"JCES shall also not destroy these documents without the prior permission of the court," the judge said.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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