Thursday, February 2, 2023

Karnataka HC quashed the criminal case against Airtel Chairman and MD

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Karnataka High Court quashed the criminal complaint against the Sunil Bharti Mittal Chairman of Bharti Airtel a telecom service provider.

Mr Sunil Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Airtel and others moved to Karnataka High Court under section 482 CrPC to quash and set aside the magistrate order who took cognizance of a criminal complaint filed by N Naresh Kumar, alleging that without his consent, his call details were provided to 3rd party.

FIR has been lodged against Airtel Chairman, Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer & Nodal Officer  under section 406, 503, 506, 507 and 34 of the IPC, and 72, 72-A and 66A of Information and Technology Act, 2000.

Acting upon a plea, Karnataka HC Justice R. Devdas said, “The court is of the opinion that no case was made out against the petitioners and learned Magistrate could not have proceeded to take cognizance of the complaint made by complainant.”

Senior Advocate Mr. C.V. Nagesh appeared for petitioner submitted before the court that this is a clear abuse of process of this court; both the officers take care of the affairs of the company sitting at the New Delhi Office. Mr. Nagesh also argued that during the course of investigation if the investigation requires call details of the person, then it is the duty of the Service Provider to give all the necessary information.

Court cited judgment involving the same petitioner Sunil Bharati Mittal V Central Bureau of Investigation reported in (2015) 4 SCC 609, the Apex Court has held that, “when a Company is accused, its Directors, can be roped in only if there is sufficient incriminating evidence against them coupled with criminal intent or a statutory regime attracts the doctrine of vicarious liability. Therefore, unless and until there is incriminating evidence against the Directors of a Company, coupled with criminal intent, criminal proceedings cannot be initiated against the Directors of a Company. It is clear from the complaint that no such allegation either of criminal intent or any incriminating evidence to allege personal motive against the petitioners herein found.”

The court observed that it is the duty of the service provider to assist the investigating officer with all the necessary information and this does not attract any criminal liability, setting aside the order of the Addl. Chief Judicial Magistrate.

-India Legal Bureau 

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