DoT given time till March 14 to reply to Loop settlement plea

DoT given time till March 14 to reply to Loop settlement plea
The telecom department on Thursday sought more time from a Delhi court for filing its reply on a plea filed by Loop Telecom seeking directions for referring the matter to Lok Adalat for "settlement" in a case arising out of the 2G probe.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), which was scheduled to file its reply Thursday, said they were in the process of preparing their response to the plea in which Loop Telecom Ltd (LTL) had said that the offences alleged against it are compoundable.

"We are preparing the view. It is in process," the DoT official, who appeared in the court, said.

Special CBI Judge O P Saini said the matter is "serious" and the DoT cannot take the decision hurriedly.

"This is such a serious matter. I do not think somebody will take decision so shortly," the judge said and fixed the matter for further proceedings on March 14.

Initially, the matter was being fixed for April 4 but senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Loop Telecom, told the court that the matter should be heard expeditiously.

Senior public prosecutor K K Goel, who appeared for CBI, told the court that there are eight accused in the case and only Loop Telecom has filed the plea for settlement.

"Technically only one accused has filed the petition. There are total eight accused and only one has filed the petition," the prosecutor said, adding, "If the defence counsel wants to take the matter hurriedly then CBI is not interested in settlement in the case".

The matter was however fixed for March 14. The court on December 16 last year had issued notices to the CBI and DoT seeking their replies on LTL's plea.

The plea was filed after LTL, charge sheeted by CBI along with the promoters of Essar Group and Loop Telecom, had approached the court for an appropriate direction to the Centre for compounding the case in Lok Adalat.

Lok Adalat is an alternate dispute resolution mechanism by which the parties involved in civil and compoundable criminal cases try to arrive at a compromise to settle their case. If the concerned parties do not arrive at a compromise, the matter is remanded back to the court for disposal.

Meanwhile, during the hearing on Thursday, the court said that it would record the statements of the accused in the case on April 4.

The court, which was scheduled to start the recording of statement of accused in the case against promoters of Essar Group and Loop Telecom Thursday, posted it for April 4 saying, "questions are not yet ready."

LTL, in its plea seeking settlement, had said "it is fair and reasonable on its part to file the present application seeking reference of the present matter to Lok Adalat even at the present stage of the trial. This is an appropriate case which requires to be referred to Lok Adalat for settlement."

It had also said the plea seeking to refer the matter to Lok Adalat for settlement was without any prejudice and by filing the application, the firm is not admitting any of the allegations levelled by CBI in its charge sheet.

"The applicant (LTL) submits that the present application seeking reference of the present matter to Lok Adalat for settlement is without prejudice to the applicant's contention that there is no case made out against the applicant. By making this application, the applicant is not admitting any of the allegations made in the charge sheet," it had said.

It had said the company is facing trial for the offence of conspiracy to cheat and the offences are "compoundable".

As per the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), offence under section 420 (cheating) of the IPC is compoundable if both the complainant and the accused arrive at a mutual consent.

LTL had said they were granted 21 UAS licences by DoT in 2008 but they have not made any monetary gains and had, in fact, incurred a huge loss and the Supreme Court has already cancelled the licences.

Essar Group promoters Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia, Loop Telecom promoters Kiran Khaitan, her husband I P Khaitan and Essar Group Director (Strategy and Planning) Vikash Saraf are facing trial in the case along with three firms - LTL, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Tele Holding Ltd. All of them have denied the charges levelled by CBI.

CBI had filed the charge sheet against them alleging they had cheated DoT by using Loop Telecom as a "front" to secure 2G licences in 2008.


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