The Supreme Court will hear on Monday a plea of Sunil Bharti Mittal, CMD of Bharti Cellular Limited, against his summoning as an accused in a corruption case related to allocation of additional 2G spectrum in 2002.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir will also be hearing Bharti Airtel’s plea challenging the Delhi High Court order giving its nod to the Centre’s decision holding the 3G roaming pact of the telecom major as illegal.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on March 15 had issued a notification restraining Bharti from providing 3G intra-circle roaming facilities in seven circles where it did not have the spectrum and also levied a penalty of Rs 350 crore (Rs 50 crore per circle) for violating the licence terms and conditions.
The telecom major has challenged the decision of the division bench of the high court which had set aside its single judge’s March 18 order staying the DoT notification.
While challenging the special 2G court’s order summoning him as an accused, Mr. Mittal has contended that criminal liability cannot be fastened on an individual for alleged acts of a firm.
“The special judge failed to consider the settled law in the context of vicarious criminal liability of Managing Directors/Directors and other officers of corporations that in the absence of specific statutory provisions making individual actors liable, there shall be no vicarious criminal liability imposed on any individual for acts of any corporation,” the petition filed by Mr. Mittal said.
“Commission of an offence by raising a legal fiction or by creating a vicarious liability in terms of provisions of a statute must be expressly stated. The Managing Director or Directors of a company cannot be said to have committed an offence merely because they are holders of offices,” it said.
Besides Mr. Mittal, special CBI judge O.P. Saini had also summoned two others — Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia, who was then a director in one of accused company Sterling Cellular Ltd, and Asim Ghosh, then MD of accused firm Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd — whose name were not mentioned in the charge sheet.