A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court has asked Reliance Communications Chairman Anil Ambani and his wife Tina Ambani to appear as witnesses in the 2G telecom spectrum trial on August 22 and August 23, respectively. Reliance Telecom’s plea in the Supreme Court against the inclusion of 13 witnesses at a “late stage of trial” is expected to be heard by a special bench on July 29.
Ambani, earlier summoned by the trial court on July 26, had moved a plea, seeking exemption from appearance till August 15. In his application, he had said he had received the summons at a very short notice, on July 23. Due to his “large number of prescheduled and pre-committed business engagements”, he could only appear in court after August 15, he had said.
While the lower court’s new summons precede the Supreme Court’s order, it gives a longer notice to the Ambanis to appear in court.
Ambani had approached the special CBI court after the Supreme Court didn’t agree to an urgent hearing on Reliance Telecom’s plea on July 25, a day before he was expected to appear in the special court.
Special CBI Judge O P Saini said both Anil Ambani and Tina Ambani were “supposed to be acquainted with” the investments and divestments of Swan Capital and Swan Telecom and that their “examination may help in reaching the truth and a just decision in the case”. CBI had told the court Anil Ambani was part of the decision to invest Rs 992 crore in Swan Telecom and that he should be made a witness to further the cause of justice.
The agency had added Tina Ambani had presided over the meetings of the holding companies of Swan Telecom.
The Ambanis’ counsel, however, said CBI had sought to call them to the court to embarrass them, adding they had nothing to do with the day-to-day functioning of Reliance Telecom.
Three senior executives of Reliance Telecom, Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair, are also facing trial in the case on charges of criminal conspiracy and cheating. Reliance Telecom is also an accused in the case.
CBI has alleged Reliance Telecom used Swan Telecom to secure a 2G spectrum licence.