The CBI judge lashed out the investigating officers and officials of Department of Telecom for failing to establish the basic premise of a link between two accused companies Essar and Loop Telecom. The CBI had alleged that Loop was a front company for Essar but judge OP Saini pulled up the investigating officer for not defining the term ‘associate’ to establish the link.The court observed that the two companies are separate identities.The CBI cited Clause 8 of Department of Telecom guidelines on 2G stating that a company is barred from participating if it has 10 per cent stake in another company that was given a licence.”None of the witnesses except Legal Advisor (DoT) (Santokh Singh) deposed anything as to the meaning and scope of Clause 8, particularly the word “Associate”. Ordinary prudence requires that decision makers must understand the law and rules that guide their decision making and must apply it correctly. When the decision maker himself does not understand a rule, how can he say that other party has violated the rule.”Also the judge said language of the clause is also not clear as it is saddled with words like “Associate”, “Promoter”, “Stake” etc., meaning of which is not known to anyone, including DoT officers. “Nor anyone tried to clarify the same,” he said.Also the court lashed out at the investigating officers including the chief investigating officer Vivek Priyadarshi failing to prove the violation made by the accused in the case.Saini said, “Similarly, five CBI officers were part of the investigation in the instant case. Inspector Shyam Prakash, DySP Rajesh Chahal, DySP SK Sinha, DySP VM Mittal and SP Vivek Priyadarshi, the chief investigating officer. None of these witnesses deposed as to what was the requirement of Clause 8 and how did they arrive at the conclusion that Loop Telecom Ltd violated the clause.”The court also said there is no material on record that DoT took any steps to do any of these things.”Instead of course correction by taking appropriate administrative action, the DoT started playing victim claiming that it has been cheated by Loop Telecom Limited as it was indebted heavily to a group, which already had more than 10% equity in an existing pan India licensee, that is, Vodafone Essar Ltd,” the judge said.Court finds no crime motiveIt is the case of the prosecution that Essar group acquired BPL companies in the name of IP Khaitan so that it can run telecom business after exiting Vodafone Essar Ltd. It is the case of the prosecution that this was the motive for Essar group to acquire these companies.However, 13 officers of DoT and chief investigating officer Vivek Priyadarshi and four other investigating officers did not depose even a word that this was the motive of IP Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan becoming benami/ front of Essar Group.

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DoT, CBI fail to define ‘associate’, ‘equity’ in Essar-Loop case