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No say on court order on Airtel Chief: Minister

March 26, 2013 17:22 IST

Kapil SibalTelecom Minister Kapil Sibal said on Tuesday that government has nothing to say on the order of a Delhi court which has summoned telecom major Airtel's chief Sunil Bharti Mittal, among others, as an accused in a spectrum allocation case during the earlier National Democratic Alliance regime.

"The CBI chose not to consider him (Mittal) as an accused. The court has summoned him (as an accused), there is nothing that we can say. If there are any consequences, that has nothing to do with the government," Sibal said when asked about his view as Telecom Minister on the matter.

The Minister was talking to media on sidelines of a function organised by Department of Telecommunication for new version of Internet addresses, IPv6.

Though Mittal's name was not mentioned in CBI's charge sheet as an accused, the court in its order on March 19 said it was taking cognizance of the case and issuing summons to all the seven accused, including him, for April 11.

Mittal was ‘prima facie’ in ‘control of affairs’ of his company Bharti Cellular Ltd which was charged by the CBI, the court had said.

Besides Mittal, Special CBI Judge O P Saini summoned Essar Group Promoter Ravi Ruia, who was then a Director in one of the accused company Sterling Cellular Ltd and is already facing trial in another case arising out of the probe into the 2G spectrum allocation case, and Asim Ghosh, the then Managing Director of accused firm Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd.

The companies have denied to have any kind of involvement in the wrong doing by their officials named in the order.

Asked about the impact that such an order can have on the telecom industry, Sibal said, "Everybody knows what the impact is going to be.

“What was the impact of. . . 2010. . . I ask you. You know what the impact was. . . but its not under the government control. “Courts are independent. Courts are entitled to do what they believe is consistent with the law." In 2010, Comptroller and Auditor General released its report which estimated that spectrum allocation in 2008 caused national exchequer a notional loss of up to 1.76 lakh crore (Rs 1.76 trillion).

On the other hand, investigations were already on by CBI in the spectrum allocation case of 2008 that was later cancelled by the Supreme Court in February 2012.

Sibal added that the government can only watch because in the matter of court ‘there is very little avenue for us to take a position on it.’

Image: Kapil Sibal

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