Sunil Mittal, the chairman of India's biggest telecommunication carrier Bharti Airtel Ltd, has moved the Supreme Court for quashing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court order summoning him as an accused in a case over alleged corruption in allocating mobile phone bandwidth more than a decade ago.
He had been summoned to a Delhi court on April 11, along with Asim Ghosh, the former head of Vodafone-Essar, and Ravi Ruia, one of the founders of Essar Group. Former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh has also been ordered to appear in court on the same day.
Mr. Mittal, Mr. Ghosh and Mr. Ruia were named as the accused because "they represent the directing mind and will of each company", Judge O.P. Saini said in his order. "The acts of the companies are to be attributed and imputed to them. Consequently, I find enough material on record to proceed against them."
In an earlier statement, Bharti Airtel had said: "We would like to reiterate that Bharti Airtel Ltd. and its promoters have always practised the highest standards of corporate governance and accordingly view the Charge Sheet as an attempt to tarnish its high reputation."
In 2002, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone's India unit were charged by the CBI over alleged irregularities in allotting mobile spectrum when the BJP-led NDA coalition was in power. The charge sheet did not name any individual executives.
Nineteen people and three companies are already on trial for criminal conspiracy in the allocation of second-generation (2G) airwaves and mobile network licenses in 2008, when A. Raja was Telecom Minister. He spent a year in prison before being granted bail.
The Supreme Court had ordered the CBI to investigate any possible irregularities in the allocation of mobile airwaves from 2001 to 2007.