The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned till April 16 the proceedings in the Special CBI Court against Bharti Cellular Limited’s Sunil Bharti Mittal in a case related to the 2G spectrum allocation in 2002.
A Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Anil R Dave and Justice Vikramajit Sen was hearing a petition filed by Mittal challenging the March 19 order summoning him as an accused in the corruption case dating back to the NDA regime.
Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the Bharti boss, questioned the Special Court order, saying the CEOs of the telcos were summoned despite not being named as accused in the chargesheet.
“The chargesheet doesn’t name us as accused,” Salve pointed out. “Where is the chargesheet?”asked the Justice Kabir. “I don’t have it. I was not given,” Salve replied.
“I also find that the then MD of Hutchison Max Telecom was also summoned under similar circumstances.” The Chief Justice asked CBI counsel K K Venugopal how Mittal was summoned when his name did not figure in the chargesheet. “Can the Special Judge take cognisance at this stage?” he asked.
When Venugopal said “yes”, Jusitce Kabir corrected him saying, “he cannot”.
Venugopal contended that the court has a power under Section 319 of the Cr Pc to proceed against those who were not named as accused in chargesheet but appear to be guilty of the offence.
Venugopal cited some previous SC judgments to buttress his claim and said, “Let him go and argue his case before the Special Judge.”
The Bench asked Venugopal to file a short affidavit and asked Mittal to file a rejoinder to the CBI affidavit by Saturday.
On Salve’s request to adjourn the proceedings, Justice Kabir posted the matter to April 15 for further hearing. Justice Kabir did not entertain advocate Prashant Bhushan’s bid to implead in the case on behalf of the NGO ‘Telecom Watchdog’. “What has the watchdog got to do with this case?” the Chief Justice of India asked the senior lawyer.