SC asks Marans to face trial in illegal telephone exchange case

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New Delhi | Updated: Jul 31, 2018 12:23 AM

In a major setback to former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maran, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with the Madras High Court order.

Kalanithi Maran

In a major setback to former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maran, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with the Madras High Court order that asked them to face trial in the decade-old case illegal telephone exchange case.

The CBI in 2013 had accused Dayanidhi of misusing his office and setting up a virtual private telephone exchange at his residence in Chennai when he was telecom minister in 2004-06, causing a loss of `1.78 crore to the government. The agency had alleged that more than 700 high-end leased telecom lines were installed with the help of BSNL officials and were allegedly used to help Kalanithi’s enterprise Sun TV to conduct business transactions and transfer data. The agency filed a chargesheet in the case on December 9, 2016.

While dismissing appeals filed by Marans and other accused, a bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said: “The allegation is that you used phones for your brother’s business interests. You face the trial.” the Supreme Court said, dismissing Dayanidhi Maran’s appeal.

The HC had in March set aside a trial court order discharging Dayanidhi and Kalanithi, who heads the Sun Group, and others in the case. Last week, it sent the case back to the special CBI court for trial and framing of charges within 12 weeks.

The HC held that the investigations had established a prima facie case that Dayanidhi had conspired with the other accused and obtained 764 telephone numbers at his Chennai and Delhi residences under service category without being entitled to it and by violating all procedures and norms.

Besides Marans, the other accused are K B Brahmadathan and M P Velusamy, the then Chief General Managers of BSNL, Vedagiri Gowthaman, K S Ravi and S Kannan, who allegedly played crucial roles in obtaining and maintaining these illegal telephone connections. Velusamy also allegedly generated an ante-dated false reply to help Dayanidhi claim that no dues were recoverable from him towards telephone charges, the judge pointed out.

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