A special CBI court in New Delhi today began hearing arguments on charges against Loop Telecom and the Essar Group in the multi-faceted 2G spectrum allocation case.
The court would also take up applications seeking anticipatory bail against their arrest filed by Essar Group promoters Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia, Loop Telecom promoters I P Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan, and Essar group director (strategy and planning) Vikas Saraf.
In its third set of charges over the cheap and allegedly arbitrary allocations of 2G radio spectrum in 2008 under the tainted former telecom minister Andimuthu Raja, the Central Bureau of Investigation has alleged that the Essar Group had used Loop as a front to acquire more telecom licences than were permitted to one company under the rules.
Essar had a 33-per cent stake in what was then Vodafone-Essar, but it also held substantial equity in Loop, which also got spectrum and licences separately, the CBI chargesheet said.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court rejected pleas by Essar Teleholdings and Loop Telecom that the criminal proceedings initiated against them in the special court be stayed. This freed the CBI court to begin hearing arguments today on the charges against the accused and their bail pleas.
The case against Loop emerged in the backdrop of an unrelated development - that of the central audit watchdog Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) stating that Raja abused his discretionary powers while distributing 2G mobile airwaves and operating licences to telecom firms, costing the government up to Rs1.76 lakh crore in lost revenues.