May 072012

New Delhi: Essar Teleholdings Ltd (ETHL) told a Delhi court hearing the 2G spectrum case that the CBI should not go on a “wild-goose chase” just because an entity of complex corporate structure is involved in the matter.

Appearing for ETHL, senior advocate Harish Salve brushed aside the CBI’s allegations against them in the charge sheet, saying that the agency has arrived at a conclusion which is contrary to the facts.

“You (CBI) do not have to go on a wild-goose chase just because you have seen a complex (corporate) structure,” Salve told Special CBI Judge O P Saini.

On CBI’s allegation that clause 8 of the Unified Access Service Licences (UASL) guidelines was violated by the accused, Salve said, “The government has not told the CBI that they are considering it as a breach.

“Facts (given in the charge sheet) are at odd with the final conclusion they (CBI) are arriving at,” he said while opposing the framing of charges against them in the case.

“The owner (DoT) is not complaining. You have not heard any complaint from the DoT…. Has the decision making body, the government has told you about this?”

The CBI, in its charge sheet filed on December 12 last year, had named Essar group promoters Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia and Loop Telecom promoters I P Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan, besides Essar Group Director (Strategy and Planning) Vikash Saraf as accused in the case.

During the arguments, which would also continue tomorrow, Salve said the charge sheet against ETHL and others was “much ado about nothing” and no cheating or conspiracy was done by the accused.

He said Khaitans invested in BPL Communications Ltd, owned by industrialist and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar and T P G Nambiar, the BPL’s founder group chairman, as a “good business opportunity” and Ravi Ruia helped I P Khaitan, who is his brother-in-law.

Besides the five persons, three companies Loop Telecom Pvt Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Teleholdings Ltd are also accused in the case.

The CBI, in its charge sheet, has alleged that the accused had committed offences of cheating and criminal conspiracy for obtaining 2G licences in 2008.

“It is true that Essar helped Khaitans to get new licence as he (Ravi Ruia) knew that new players are coming and he will sell his shares. But to say that they did something wrong in August 2006 is wrong,” Salve said adding that there is no criminality in helping a relative.

He said Essar and Khaitans had no intention to retain the BPL Communications as it was purchased by Khaitan for re-sale only.

The agency had alleged the accused made false and fraudulent representation before DoT to secure 2G licences and under that impression, the department had granted spectrum to them.

“This is the first case where I am seeing that conspiracy started before the intentions were clear,” he said.

The CBI had earlier argued that the accused had “deliberately and consciously” violated UASL guidelines.

On allegations of conspiracy, Salve argued that the CBI has not said there was any conspiracy between Chandrasekhar and Ravi Ruia or among Chandrasekhar and Khaitans.


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