SC stays ED proceedings to attach Sun TV assets

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New Delhi | Published: August 22, 2015 12:45:49 AM

Agency had started proceedings to attach assets worth Rs 742 cr on money-laundering charges in Aircel-Maxis case

Supreme CourtAgency had started proceedings to attach assets worth Rs 742 cr on money-laundering charges in Aircel-Maxis case (Reuters)

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the proceedings initiated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to attach assets worth Rs 742 crore of Sun TV Networks on money-laundering charges in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, however, clarified that the period of 180 days stipulated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to conclude proceedings to attach assets after issuance of a notice, will not expire during the pendency of Sun TV’s appeal in the apex court. “In view of the last order passed by this court, the provisional attachment process will not expire after the conclusion of 180 days,” it said.

Senior advocate Anand Grover, appointed by the apex court as special prosecutor to conduct 2G scam trial, said he had “no problem” with the staying of proceedings but the bench should specify that the statutory period of 180 days does not get expired due to the stay.

He argued that adjudicating authority was required to pass an order within 180 days of the provisional attachment, else the same would lapse.

Sun TV has challenged the Madras High Court’s order that refused to entertain its petition for staying the attachment orders. The HC had said that since it was in connection with the 2G spectrum case, only the Supreme Court can hear it. The apex court had in 2011 restrained other courts from entertaining any petition and passing any orders which might impede the ongoing investigation by the CBI and the ED.

The ED had on March 31 issued an order to attach assets worth R742.6 crore belonging to former Union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, brother Kalanithi Maran and the latter’s wife, Kaveri Kalanithi, in the Aircel-Maxis case. The properties attached include Kalanithi Maran’s shares worth R139 crore in Sun Direct TV, freehold land and building owned by Sun Network TV worth R266 crore, land and building owned by Kal Comm Pvt Ltd worth R171.55 crore, a fixed deposit held by Kalanithi Maran of R100 crore, an FD held by South Asia FM Ltd worth R31.34 crore, FDs held by Dayanidhi Maran and others worth R7.47 crore, and FDs and mutual funds held by Kaveri Kalanithi worth R1.30 crore and R1.78 crore each.

The channel says that the case does not fall within the ambit of the 2G case and the properties attached by the ED were not connected with the alleged offence and were purchased before this offence was committed.

In 2011, the CBI had filed a chargesheet against the Maran brothers, Malaysian businessman T Ananthakrishnan and Maxis Communications, a company then promoted by Ananthakrishnan, Sun Direct TV and Astro All Asia Networks, among others.

The issues
Shortcomings listed in the report:
* Increased weight
* Reduced internal fuel capacity
* Non-compliance of fuel system protection
* Pilot protection from front
* Reduced speed

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