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The CBI case
2017: court discharges most of the accused=
A special CBI court discharged on Thursday most of the accused in the Aircel-Maxis case, including former Union communications minister Dayanidhi Maran and his industrialist brother, Kalanithi. The court observed that “no prima facie case warranting framing of charge against any of the accused is made out“ as the charges against them are based on “misreading of official files“ as well as speculation and surmises of the complainant.
Following the complaint of Chennai-based telecom promoter C Sivasankaran, the Marans and others were charged with criminal conspiracy and corruption for receiving “proceeds of crime“ totalling Rs 742.58 crore and laundering the amount. Special CBI judge O P Saini, however, observed that there was no existence of proceeds of crime. That fact that the Marans are brothers and shareholders in firms are not indicative of any conspiracy , the judge said, while discharging the accused. “It may indicate their close association, but nothing beyond that,“ he said.
“These (facts) may create a suspicion that the money received in the company of Kalanithi Maran was meant for Dayanidhi, but perception or suspicion are not enough for criminal prosecution. Legally admissible evidence is wholly lacking in this case,“ Saini said, adding, “The case is based on contradictory statements of witnesses“.
Sivasankaran had wanted to expand his GSM mobile business in other states and accordingly applied to the department of telecommunications (DoT) for licenses in 2004. It was alleged that the grant of licenses in seven telecom circles, pending with DoT, was delayed with an “intent to force Aircel's exit from telecom business by constricting its business environment“.
According to the CBI, Dayanidhi had “pressurised“ Sivasankaran to sell his stakes in Aircel and two subsidiary firms to Malaysian firm Maxis Group in 2006. After change in ownership to Maxis, all 7 applications for licenses and approvals pending since long were acceded to, the CBI alleged. In addition, Dayanidhi was accused of accepting “undue and illegal“ gratification through his brother's company by Maxis.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, R S Cheema, Sidharth Luthra, Rebecca John along with advocates Anirban Bhattacharya and Chahat Chawla argued that the delay in Aircel getting regulatory approvals couldn't be attributed either to Dayanidhi, or to ex-additional secretary (telecom) J S Sarma, another accused.