Court discharges Maran brothers in Aircel-Maxis case

RSTV Bureau
File photo of union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, who, alongwith his brother Kalanithi Maran, was charge sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly setting up an illegal telephone exchange of BSNL during his tenure.

File photo of union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, who, alongwith his brother Kalanithi Maran, was charge sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly setting up an illegal telephone exchange of BSNL during his tenure.

In a big relief to former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother industrialist brother Kalanithi Maran, a special court Thursday discharged them and others in the controversial Aircel-Maxis deal cases of CBI and ED saying the charges were based on “misreading of official files”, speculation and surmises of the complainant.

Special CBI Judge O P Saini said that no prima facie case warranting framing of charges against any of these accused was made out on the basis of materials placed on record.

Dealing with the money laundering case, the court observed that since the accused were discharged in the case of scheduled offence registered by CBI, the Enforcement Directorate’s matter has become “groundless” and nothing survives in it.

“I am satisfied that the entire case (of CBI) is based on the misreading of the official files, contradictory statements of the witnesses as well as speculation and surmises of C Sivasankaran, the complainant. I have no hesitation in recording no prima facie case warranting framing of charge against any of the accused is made out,” the judge said.

While discharging the accused in the ED’s case, the judge said, “In view of the fact that the accused persons stand discharged in the case of scheduled offence, I am satisfied that the instant case has become groundless and nothing survives in it. Accordingly, all accused are ordered to be discharged and stand discharged.

“In such a situation, there is no existence of proceeds of crime. When there is no existence of proceeds of crime, there is no question of same being laundered or projected as untainted. Accordingly, there is no ground to proceed against the accused persons,” it said in the order passed in ED’s case.

However, today’s order would not have any effect on the two accused Malaysian nationals — Ralph Marshall and T Ananda Krishnan — in the CBI’s case as the court has already segregated the proceedings against them from that of Maran brothers and others.

CBI had filed a charge sheet against the Maran brothers, Ralph Marshall, T Ananda Krishnan and four firms — M/s Sun Direct TV (P) Ltd, M/s Astro All Asia Networks Plc, UK, M/s Maxis Communications Berhad, Malaysia, M/s South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd, Malaysia — and then Additional Secretary (Telecom) J S Sarma, who had died during the course of the probe.

They were chargesheeted for alleged offences punishable under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In the money laundering case, ED had chargesheeted the Maran brothers, Kalanithi’s wife Kavery, Managing Director of South Asia FM Ltd (SAFL) K Shanmugam, SAFL and Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd (SDTPL) under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The Enforcement Directorate has said that it would appeal against the order of the special court which discharged former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran, his industrialist brother Kalanithi Maran and others in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

Officials said the agency would appeal the order as it believes that its probe in the money laundering charges in was a “standalone” investigation and the “proceeds of crime” detected by it was independent of CBI’s FIR and enquiry.