A Delhi court today fixed January 30 to consider taking cognisance of the CBI charge sheet filed against Airtel, Vodafone and others for alleged irregularities in allocation of additional spectrum to them during NDA regime.
Special CBI judge O P Saini, who earlier had fixed January 14 to consider taking cognisance of the charge sheet filed on December 21 last year, deferred its order on the issue after the CBI submitted that they need over two weeks more to file some more documents before the court.
"Put up for consideration on cognisance on January 30," the judge said.
During the brief hearing, CBI prosecutor A K Singh told the court that they have filed in the court all the documents relied upon by the agency but they need two weeks more to file some "unrelied documents" which are in agency's possession.
"There are some unrelied documents and if the court feels, it can order and then we will place it in the court. We have filed the relied-upon documents. We will file all the documents by next date and we need two weeks time," the prosecutor said.
The court allowed the CBI's plea for placing before it the unrelied documents and fixed the matter for January 30.
The charge sheet has named 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) -- as accused in the case in which the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) had allegedly allocated additional spectrum resulting in loss of Rs 846 crore to the exchequer.
In the charge sheet filed against the three telecom companies, CBI has said that during the pendency of IPO of M/s Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd, a Bharti Group company, decision in this regard was taken by then erstwhile Telecom Minister Pramod Mahajan, who was not named as accused as he is no more.
The charge sheet has also named former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh as an accused.
The charge sheet has said, "Investigation has established that during the pendency of the aforesaid period of said IPO (Initial Public Offer) of M/s Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd, Late Pramod Mahajan, then MOC&IT, took decision on January 31, 2002 for allocating additional spectrum between 6.2 MHz up to 10 MHz (paired) in conspiracy with accused Shyamal Ghosh and the said three accused telecom companies and on the basis of recommendation of Shyamal Ghosh.
"The IPO of the said company (Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd) was closed on February 2, 2002 and, therefore, by getting the said approval for additional spectrum and by getting such news published in the newspaper, the risk factor of additional spectrum as mentioned in draft prospectus had been mitigated and brightened the outcome of the said IPO."
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.
Giving details of the IPO, it said Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd had issued an IPO on January 28, 2002 and it was closed on February 2, 2002.
It said while seeking approvals for the IPO, the company had filed Draft Red Herring prospectus with Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and different stock exchanges.
The CBI said in their draft prospectus, it had "mentioned that the expansion and development of their network might be impacted by the limited availability of frequency spectrum which was mentioned as one of the risk factors."
It said the decision regarding allocation of additional spectrum to these telecom firms was taken on January 31, 2002 in "undue haste" in pursuance to the criminal conspiracy hatched among Mahajan, Ghosh and these telecom companies.
Detailing the sequence of events relating to the IPO, the CBI said the approval for grant of additional spectrum boosted the investment in the shares of the company through the IPO.
"It thereby proved to be a boost and encouraging factor for the investors to invest in the shares of the said company through said IPO," it said adding "Investigation also revealed that substantial number of share applications were received on February 1, 2002 and February 2, 2002 immediately after the said decision dated January 31, 2002 taken for allotment of additional spectrum..."
Regarding the alleged conspiracy hatched among all the accused, it said, "Investigation has also revealed that various directors/promoters/representatives of the said three accused telecom companies had been meeting the accused public servants in connection with getting allocation of additional spectrum, for which the accused companies had not yet achieved the subscribers base as recommended by the technical committee of the DoT."
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 agency has said that in conspiracy with Mahajan and accused telecom firms, he abused his official position to show undue favour to the companies causing a loss of Rs 846.44 crore to the exchequer.
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