The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was on Tuesday given over two weeks additional time “reluctantly” by a Delhi court to submit documents sought from it in connection with a charge sheet against Airtel, Vodafone and others for alleged irregularities in the allocation of additional spectrum to them during National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.
The court, which had on February 11 listed the matter for on Tuesday for consideration of the chargesheet, fixed the case for further proceedings on March 8 after the prosecutor said they need more time to work on the court’s query.
The court had earlier directed the CBI to place before it documents relating to resolution passed by three firms, including Airtel and Vodafone, for seeking additional spectrum during the NDA regime.
During the brief hearing on Tuesday, CBI prosecutor K K Goyal told Special CBI Judge O P Saini that they are working on the court’s query and they need some more time to go through the documents.
“We are doing the work as per the court’s order. We need some more time. We are working on your query,” the CBI said.
On this, the judge said, “A short adjournment has been sought by public prosecutor for further perusal of the record.
Reluctantly allowed. Put up for consideration on the charge sheet on March 8.”
The CBI had on December 21 last year filed a charge sheet in which former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh and three telecom firms —— Bharti Cellular Ltd, Hutchison Max Pvt Ltd (now known as Vodafone India Ltd) and Sterling Cellular Ltd (now known as Vodafone Mobile Service Ltd) —— have been named as accused.
In the 57-page charge sheet, the CBI has booked all the accused for the offences of criminal conspiracy (120-B) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Earlier on February 11, the court had told the CBI that these telecom firms must have approached the government first for seeking additional spectrum and they must have also passed a resolution in this regard.
“These companies must have approached the government (for additional spectrum). Where is the resolution? Show me those documents,” it had said adding the firms must have passed a resolution before seeking additional spectrum from Department of Telecom (DoT).
It had also told CBI that the case is about the pricing dispute over additional spectrum and the agency should file the documents relating to passing of any such resolution by these companies.
The CBI, in its charge sheet, has named the three telecom companies as accused in the case in which DoT had allegedly allocated additional spectrum resulting in a loss of Rs 846 crore to the exchequer.
The CBI has not named Jagdish Rai Gupta, a former Deputy Director General (VAS) cell of DoT and a former Director of BSNL, who was named in the FIR, as accused in the case saying “no evidence attributing any criminality on his part or his involvement in the alleged offence has surfaced during the investigation.”
Regarding Ghosh, the CBI had said that in conspiracy with the then Telecom Minister Pramod Mahajan and accused telecom firms, he abused his official position to show undue favour to the firms causing a loss of Rs. 846.44 crore to the exchequer.
The CBI, in its charge sheet, had said that the decision regarding allocation of additional spectrum to these telecom firms was taken in “undue haste” in pursuance of the conspiracy hatched by Mahajan, Ghosh and these companies.