The 2G telecom trial court today issued summons to Sunil Mittal, Chairman & MD Bharti Cellular and Ravi Ruia Vice-Chairman, Essar Group, and Ex-Chairman Hutchison Essar and one other person in the ongoing additional spectrum allocation case.
In an interview to CNBC-TV18, Majeed Memon, senior consultant, MZM Legal gave his views and his outlook on the case.
Below is the verbatim transcript of his interview to CNBC-TV18
Q: The court on its own took cognisance of the matter and said that there need to be individuals that need to be named in this case, which was different from all other charge sheet that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed so far. What is the way forward and the option for these individuals and companies here forward?
A: The process of the court has to be respected. The process of court requires them (executives of the telecom companies) to appear before the learned court on the April 11.
This is what ordinarily they are supposed to do, but if they want to challenge it somehow; in that case, they can go to the higher court and ask for relief because they have not been named in the chargesheet that was been filed.
Q: The point really is that what we have been picking up from other legal experts is that the Supreme Court had in the past said that no High Court could intervene with the proceeding of the trial court. Does it therefore imply and what you are suggesting that these individuals could seek or would have to only seek relief from the Supreme Court?
A: That is right. In the particular 2G matter there is a strong direction by the Supreme Court that no other court except the OP Saini Court and the Supreme Court would entertain any petition in this regard relating to 2G.
Now, in that context you are right. The agreed persons among those who have been summoned by the order of today’s CBI or courts order can only go to the Supreme Court.
Q: Third aspect at this stage is to do with the individuals concerned Sunil Mittal, Asim Ghosh and Ravi Ruia. Let me take up the instance of Asim Ghosh at this point of time. He was in the company in India during that period which is the subject of this entire chargesheet but he is no longer either a resident of India and from all public information available is a non resident Indian. Purely in legal terms where does the courts proceedings stand as far as he is concerned?
A: The fact that the accused has changed his residence, his business or his movement does not in anyway affect the court proceedings. The incident relates to a particular period. During that period, if he is allegedly responsible for commission of certain crime as he is alleged then he has to come and face the charge.
The fact that he is either changed his residency or he has settled in America or Canada or that he is no more associated with organisation as on today is irrelevant. These are all factors which are not relevant at all.
Q: After Ravi Ruia was sort of named in the Loop case he had stepped down as the Chairman of Essar Energy and he is now accused in two separate cases. What happens to him and what happens as far as the corporate governance issue is concerned with Mittal?
A: It depends upon the facts of each case. You can’t compare A with B. The facts and circumstances relating to involvement of A and B maybe totally different or may not be identical. In that event what the court is expected to do is that once the CBI has investigated the offence and has come out with whatever material that it could collect.
The chargesheet have been filed before the learned judge having examined the contents of the chargesheet. He has applied his mind on facts which are relevant for the purpose. Deemed it fit that there is prima facie evidence against the gentlemen. Therefore, he needs to be summoned before the court to face the charges.
Now, the stage of framing a charge is yet to come. After the man responds to the call by the process of the court he has to come there. He has to counter the charges that are going to be explained to him. There is still an option for this gentleman to resist the charges and point out to the learned court that he is not in anyway directly involved with the crime. He can still be out of the dock, there is no difficulty on that count at all.