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Court to hear Reliance call masking case tomorrow

business Updated: Aug 04, 2010 11:18 IST

A local court will on Thursday hear charges against top executives of the undivided Reliance empire that they masked international calls as local ones to evade payment of fee to the exchequer.

The court, in early July, had summoned Manoj Modi, a top lieutenant of Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Akhil Gupta, Shankar Adawal, Pankaj Panwar, K R Raju and Bhagwan Das Khurana of the erstwhile Reliance Infocomm Ltd.

The chargesheet was filed four years after CBI took up investigation and five years after Reliance Infocomm paid Rs 150 crore towards penalty imposed by telecom tribunal TDSAT.

Incidentally, the company is now controlled by Mukesh's younger brother Anil who got it as part of the division of the Reliance empire and it has since been renamed Reliance Communications. The officials named in the chargesheet are no longer with the telecom arm.

CBI filed the chargesheet in July before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Egmore, Chennai, under 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 20-A (breach of licence), 21 (unauthorised telegraph) and 25-C (intentionally damaging or tampering with telegraphs) of the Indian Telegraph Act.

Besides, sections 65 (tampering with computer source documents), 66 (hacking with computer system), 85 (contravention of any of the provisions) of the Information Technology Act.

The case relates to manipulation and tampering of calling lines identification of ISD calls by Reliance Infocomm Ltd and thereby, passing off international calls as local ones and causing loss to the government and its PSUs, BSNL and MTNL, to the tune of several crores of rupees.

According to the CBI, the company would mask incoming international calls as local ones through one of the three gateways -- Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. The calls would be put on the Public System Telephone Network as local. This was done, CBI sources said, with the help of specially designed software and accomplices in BSNL.

This was allegedly done to avoid paying Access Deficit Charges (ADC) to PSU, BSNL. Private telecom operators have to pay the state-owned telecom behemoth Rs 4 on every incoming international call as ADC.