CBI has registered an FIR against Maran and others alleging that more than 300 high-speed telephone lines were provided at his residence and extended to his brother Kalanithi Maran's SUN TV channel.
The Madras High Court today cancelled former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran’s interim anticipatory bail in the controversial telephone exchange case and directed him to surrender before the CBI within three days while rejecting his charges of political vendetta.
In a 49-page order, Justice Vaidhyanthan held that “prima facie” Maran had “misused” his office by obtaining telephone connections “illegally” and allegations against him were backed by material.
“After evaluating the entire available material against the petitioner, I find prima facie the exact role of the petitioner being the Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology in misusing his office for his wrongful gain by obtaining telephone connections illegally in the name of BSNL officials under “service category”, he said.
The judge granted three days for Maran to surrender before CBI before 4.30 pm on August 13.
He rejected the argument that Maran had been falsely implicated in the case due to political vendetta and that the accusations have been made with the object of injuring and humiliating the former minister by arresting him.
“This contention, in my opinion, is not reasonable and acceptable one,” the judge said allowing the CBI plea for cancellation of the interim anticipatory bail.
“…I do not find any frivolity in the prosecution. Allegations which were attributed to Maran are corroborated by the material and circumstances on record,” the judge said.
He was passing the order after hearing arguments on the CBI plea for cancellation of Maran’s interim anticipatory bail and also on the former DMK minister’s petition that the interim bail may be made a permanent one.
CBI has registered an FIR against Maran and others alleging that more than 300 high-speed telephone lines were provided at his residence here and extended to his brother Kalanithi Maran’s SUN TV channel to enable its uplinking when Dayanidhi Maran was Telecom Minister from 2004-07.
Apprehending arrest in the case, Maran had moved the court and Justice R Subbiah had on June 30 granted him anticipatory bail for six weeks subject to the condition that he appears before CBI on July 1 and cooperates in the investigation.
CBI later moved the high court seeking cancellation of the anticipatory bail on the ground that he was not cooperating in the investigation.
In his order, the judge rejected Maran’s contention that CBI was seeking cancellation of his interim bail only to humiliate him.
The judge noted that FIR was registered against Maran in 2013 and that had the agency wanted to arrest him it could have done so when he had appeared before it in January and October 2014 when there was no bail protection.
He concurred with the submissions of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) for CBI and the Centre that when a number of undertrials have been languishing in jail for years even for petty offences, “why Maran facing serious allegations of corruption, cheating and causing wrongful loss to the exchequer be extended a concession of anticipatory bail.”
He said,”As liberty is precious to an individual, so is the society’s interest in maintenance of peace, law and order.
Referring to the condition imposed while granting interim bail that he should fully cooperate with CBI, the judge said, “When Maran was examined, he was not cooperating but retracted from his earlier version, giving many evasive answers to the questions.
“And the information provided by him did not match with the statement given by him during his examination,” he said.
The judge concurred with the submissions of ASG that as a Union Minister Maran had caused huge financial loss to the exchequer and the apprehension that he might tamper with the witnesses, and that he was “required for custodial interrogation.”
He also said, “I find that the petitioner has been involved in serious offences, wherein allegations of corruption, cheating and causing wrongful loss to the exchequer of the Government to the tune of crores of rupees, have been attributed.”