Special Court judge grants five accused bail
Charges were framed against Essar Group promoters Ravi and Anshuman Ruia and Loop Telecom promoters Kiran and I. P. Khaitan by a special court, hearing the 2G spectrum case, here on Friday. Special Judge O. P. Saini also granted bail to the Ruias, the Khaitans, and the fifth accused Vikash Saraf. The eight accused, including Loop Telecom, Loop Mobile India and Essar Teleholdings, pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.
The trial will begin on July 26.
All the five accused persons and the three companies have been charged with criminal conspiracy (Section 120B of the IPC) against and cheating (Section 420) the Department of Telecommunications, which believed Loop Telecom's claim that it met the eligibility conditions under Clause 8 of the UAS licence guidelines and issued it Letters of Intent, UAS licences and spectrum. Mr. Saraf has been additionally charged for an act of cheating (Section 420) in getting “false representations made to DoT officials” through his subordinates/employees certifying that the company was in compliance with Clause 8.
Clause 8 prevents existing UAS licence-holding promoter companies from owning over 10 per cent equity holding in another licensee company in the same service area.
“That during the period July 23, 2007-March 9, 2009, you all entered into an agreement at New Delhi, Mumbai and other unknown places… to cheat the DoT into issuing 21 Letters of Intent, UAS licences for as many telecom circles and also valuable spectrum and in pursuance of the conspiracy, you concealed, behind a complex corporate veil, the actual stakeholders of Loop Telecom Limited,” Mr. Saini said.
“…when DoT raised queries about the eligibility of the company, you accused, Vikash Saraf, in conspiracy with you accused, Ravi Ruia, Anshuman Ruia, Ishwari Prasad Khaitan and Ms. Kiran Khaitan, knowing fully well that BPL Mobile Communications was fully owned/controlled by Essar Group under a complex corporate veil created by you all, intentionally made false representation through your subordinates/employees that Shippingstop Dot Com (Loop Telecom's earlier name) was in compliance with substantial equity clause of UASL guidelines, and the DoT officials in this manner were made to believe that Essar Group was having less than 10 per cent equity in Shippingstop Dot Com,” the judge wrote in his order.
The CBI filed the charge sheet on December 12 last. While granting bail, the court directed the five accused to furnish personal bail bonds of Rs. 5 lakh each and two sureties for a like amount.
Counsel for the accused objected to the court direction that they surrender their passports, pointing out that their businesses were based in Dubai.
The judge directed the CBI to file its reply on May 30 on the plea of Ruias and Khaitans that they were NRIs and hence be allowed to retain their passports.