New Delhi, Mar 17: Essar Group promoters Anshuman and Ravi Ruia, accused in a case flowing out of the 2G scam, were today directed by a Delhi Court to appear in person before it with a warning they would suffer if they do not do so.
The warning came from Special CBI Judge O P Saini after the Ruias and Loop Telecom promoters I P Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan also failed to turn up at the hearing today.
“It would be better and in their interest to appear before the court. People do not follow my advice and then they suffer,” the Special CBI Judge said after they did not appear personally before him and were represented by their lawyers.
The judge allowed their plea for exemption from personal appearance for the day after their counsel said the matter regarding jurisdiction of the special court in taking cognisance of the CBI charge sheet against them was pending in the Supreme Court.
The court has now listed the matter for further hearing on March 31.
During the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Ruias, said hearing in the apex court would continue in the next week.
“The hearing in the Supreme Court on jurisdiction has started and it (hearing) is kept for next Friday. Kindly give us three weeks time,” Rohatgi said.
The court, however, said it would not give time to them on the ground that matter is pending before the Supreme Court.
“You will get the time but not on this count (that matter is pending in the apex court) only,” the court said.
On this, Rohatgi said the accused were seeking exemption on the similar grounds which they had cited on February 22 when they had sought exemption from appearance in the court.
On February 22, Ruias and Khaitans had sought exemption from personal appearance on the ground of their presence in UAE while Khaitans has pleaded additional ground of poor health.
Meanwhile, Vikas Saraf, Essar Group Director (Strategy and Planning), also a co-accused in the case, today appeared before the court.
The CBI, which was expected to file the reply on Saraf's bail plea, told the court that they would do so after bail pleas of other accused are also filed in the court.
The court asked the CBI to file its reply on bail plea of Saraf on March 31, the next date of hearing. Rohatgi also told the court that scrutiny of documents supplied to them along with the charge sheet was complete.
Essar group promoters Anshuman and Ravi Ruia and Loop Telecom promoters Kiran Khaitan, her husband I P Khaitan and Essar Group director (Strategy and Planning) Vikas Saraf were named as accused by the CBI in the third charge sheet filed in the court on December 12 last year.
The five have been charged with cheating the Department of Telecom (DoT) by using Loop Telecom as a “front” to secure 2G licenses in 2008.
The CBI also named Loop Telecom Pvt Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Tele Holding as accused. It has alleged that Essar, which already had a stake as an existing telecom operator, created a front company Loop Telecom to secure additional 2G spectrum which was in contravention of the Telecom policy.
They were slapped with offences only under the IPC as the CBI did not find enough evidence to prosecute them under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Essar, which has denied any involvement in 2G case, contended the special court cannot proceed against them as they were not charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Meanwhile, the court today deferred till May 26 the hearing on a plea by Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy who had levelled some fresh allegations against former Telecom Minister A Raja, the key accused in the 2G spectrum allocation case.
Special CBI Judge O P Saini, who had dismissed last month Swamy's plea to make Home Minister P Chidambaram a co-accused in the case, had said the hearing on Swamy's compliant, which also had some additional allegations against Raja would resume from today.
The court adjourned the hearing for May 26 after Swamy's counsel Tarun Goomber said the matter for making Chidambaram a co-accused in the case was pending before the Supreme Court.
“The matter is pending in the Supreme Court and we are hoping that order would come soon. Please adjourn the matter for mid-May,” Goomber said about the appeal filed by Swamy against the special judge's February 4 order which had dismissed his plea against Chidambaram.
The judge also condoned his abscence from the court today on his plea for exemption from personal appearance for the day as he was in Chennai.
The court had earlier dismissed Swamy's plea to make Chidambaram an accused in the 2G case saying he did not indulge in any criminal conspiracy or derived any pecuniary advantage in the decisions taken with Raja.
Giving a clean chit to Chidambaram, who was the finance minister during the controversial allocation of 2G spectrum in 2008, the court had said he was party to only two decisions—keeping spectrum prices at 2001 level and dilution of equity by two companies and they “are not per se criminal” offence.
The court had said there was no evidence on record to suggest that there was an agreement between Chidambaram and Raja to subvert telecom policy and obtain pecuniary advantage for himself or for any other person.