NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on the pleas of Bharti Cellular Ltd CMD Sunil Bharti Mittal and Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia against a trial court order summoning them as accused in a corruption case related to allocation of additional spectrum during the NDA regime in 2002.
An apex court Bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu reserved the judgment after senior advocate Fali S Nariman, appearing for Mittal, concluded the arguments, saying that the trial court erred in summoning his client despite the fact that the CMD was named as accused in the chargesheet.
“The CBI said that only public servants be made accused. It was then CBI Director A P Singh who said that the companies can also be made accused,” Nariman said, adding that the trial judge went further and summoned Mittal as accused.
The Managing Director cannot be held vicariously liable for a criminal offence of a company unless there is evidence, he said.
Nariman told the Bench that there was nothing unusual in the alleged assertion that Mittal had meetings with then Telecom Minister Pramod Mahajan and then Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh.
Earlier, the CBI, which had not charged Mittal and Ruia, had defended the decision of a Special CBI judge to summon them as accused.
The court was hearing petitions that sought the setting aside of an order of the Special CBI Judge by which Ruia and Mittal, whose name did not figure in the CBI’s chargesheet as accused, were summoned on March 19 last year.
The lower court had said there was enough material to proceed against them in the case.