India court to hear Bharti chief's plea next week -lawyers

NEW DELHI, April 8 Mon Apr 8, 2013 10:14am EDT

NEW DELHI, April 8 (Reuters) - India's Supreme Court has deferred a decision on whether Bharti Airtel's < chairman can be summoned in a case over alleged corruption in allocating mobile phone bandwidth, lawyers said on Monday.

The lower court on March 19 had asked billionaire Sunil Mittal to appear before it on April 11. The case also involves former executives in two firms that are now part of Vodafone Group's Indian unit.

Mittal is seeking to dismiss the case. The Supreme Court will hear the case again next Monday, lawyers said after a hearing, declining to be identified. Bharti Airtel declined immediate comment.

Indian police in December charged Bharti Airtel and the two companies that are now part of Vodafone's Indian unit over alleged irregularities in obtaining mobile phone airwaves in 2002, but did not name any company executive.

Last month, the New Delhi court summoned Mittal; Asim Ghosh, the former head of Vodafone's Indian unit; and Ravi Ruia, one of the founders of diversified conglomerate Essar Group, in the case, saying the executives "represent the directing mind and will of each company". None of the executives has been charged.

Vodafone, which entered India in 2007, has previously declined to comment on the case. Essar Group has said it was looking into legal proceedings to challenge the court's order.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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