The Madras High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by Kalanithi Maran-promoted Sun TV Network against an enforcement directorate (ED) order that had attached the company’s Rssun tv742- crore assets in the Maxis-Aircel case.
Justice M Sathyanarayanan dismissed the petition, pointing out that appeal was not maintainable since the money laundering matters related to the case were under the Supreme Court’s consideration. However, he ruled that the company can approach the apex court for remedial measures.
Opposing Sun TV’s appeal, the counsel for ED had argued that the matter has been pending with the Supreme Court, where the 2G spectrum and related matters were being heard. Countering the ED’s stand, senior counsels for Sun TV Kapil Sibal and P S Raman argued that the company was not an accused in the case pending before the Supreme Court.. They argued that while the attachment order was for alleged illegal gratification of R742 crore, the current market value of the properties in MRC Nagar and Boat Club Road, attached by the ED was estimated to be over R1,000 crore.
Sun TV Network, in its petition, had said that the properties attached by the ED were no way connected with the alleged crime and were purchased before the said crime. It thus argued that the order must be set aside.
The ED had in March issued an order to attach assets worth R742 crore belonging to former Union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, 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.
The CBI in 2011 had filed chargesheet against the Maran brothers, Malaysian business man T Ananthakrishnan and Maxis Communications, a company then promoted by Ananthakrishnan, Sun Direct TV and Astro All Asia Networks among others.
According to CBI, Dayanidhi Maran, who was the Union telecom minister between 2004 and 2007 , entered into a criminal conspiracy against Aircel owner Sivasankaran and stalled approvals for spectrum licences to the company, thereby forcing him to sell his company to Malaysia-based Maxis Communication.
As a consequence of that, Maxis invested R742 crore in Sun Group. Earlier, home ministry struck down an information and broadcasting ministry’s proposal for giving security clearance to 33 television channels of Sun TV Network, a move that could lead to cancellation of their broadcasting licence. The I&B ministry had been informed about the decision of the home ministry.