Bharti Cellular CMD Sunil Mittal today claimed before a Special CBI court that there was a stay on the hearing in the additional spectrum case.
Appearing for Mittal, senior advocate Harish Salve told Special CBI Judge O P Saini that the Supreme Court had said there was no need for clarification on its earlier interim order "postponing" the hearing against them till further orders.
As per the April 26 interim order of the apex court, the stay on the proceedings before the trial court in the additional spectrum case still continues, he maintained.
The apex court had in its April 26 interim order exempted Mittal and Essar Group promoter Ravi Ruia from personal appearance in the trial court and had said the hearing against them will remain "postponed" until further orders.
Salve today also informed the court that Mittal is at present out of India due to some meeting and he would not be able to appear before it on August 26, the date already fixed for hearing in the case.
Advocate Mahesh Aggarwal, who appeared for Ruia, too informed the court that his client is also not in India and he will not be able to appear before it on August 26.
The Special CBI Judge allowed the oral plea advanced by the advocates regarding non-appearance of both the corporate barons before him on August 26 and said he would hear CBI's arguments on the issue on that day.
The April 26 interim order of the apex court exempting Mittal and Ruia from personal appearance was passed on two separate pleas filed by them challenging the special court's March 19 order summoning them as accused in the case.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had declined to pass any order on the issue of proceedings in the special court against Mittal and Ruia in a case of alleged irregularities related to allocation of additional 2G spectrum in 2002.
"We cannot give clarification on everything. Order passed by this court is very clear and does not need any order," the apex court had said when Salve had submitted that the trial court had asked them to seek clarification of apex court's interim order.
Mittal, Ruia and former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh, all of whom were summoned as accused in the case, had appeared before the court on the last date of hearing.
The court had earlier told Mittal and Ruia, who had challenged the trial court's order summoning them as accused in the case, that there was "no stay" on the proceedings before it and had warned them that it will go ahead with criminal process if they fail to seek clarification from the Supreme Court on the issue.
CBI had also opposed their plea, saying the proceedings had not been stayed by the apex court.
Mittal, Ruia and Canada-based NRI Asim Ghosh, who was then a Managing Director of accused firm Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd, were summoned as accused by the trial court. The summons to Asim Ghosh have not been served till date.
Mittal, Ruia and Asim Ghosh were not named as accused in CBI's charge sheet filed on December 21, last year.
Three telecom firms Bharti Cellular Ltd, Hutchison Max Telecom Pvt Ltd (now known as Vodafone India Ltd) and Sterling Cellular Ltd (now known as Vodafone Mobile Service Ltd) are also accused in the case.
CBI, in its charge sheet, had named Shyamal Ghosh and the three telecom companies as accused in the case relating to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) allocating additional spectrum which had allegedly resulted in a loss of Rs 846 crore to the exchequer.