Court Ac­quits Maran Bros, Oth­ers...

Says en­tire case based on mis­read­ing of of­fi­cial files, con­tra­dic­tory state­ments of wit­nesses; ED, CBI may chal­lenge or­der in higher court

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit - Our Bu­reau

New Delhi: A spe­cial CBI court has ac­quit­ted Dayanidhi Maran and Sun TV pro­moter Kalanithi Maran in a case in which the for­mer tele­com min­is­ter and his broth­er­w­ereac­cusedof forc­ingC Si­vasankaran to sell his stake in In­dian telco Air­cel to Malaysia’s Maxis in 2006, as part of a quid pro quo in the form of bribes.

The or­der, how­ever, ex­cludes Maxis pro­moter T Ananda Kr­ish­nan and for­mer di­rec­tor of the com­pany Augustus Ralph Marshall, who have been di­rected by the Supreme Court to ap­pear in the trial court to face crim­i­nal charges in the same case. Trial of Kr­ish­nan and Marshall was seg­re­gated last year, af­ter they did not ap­pear in the trial court.

The dis­charge of the Maran broth­ers in the case — with­out even charges be­ing framed — raises hopes for Air­cel that it may get re­lief from the Supreme Court on Fri­day (February 3). The apex court on Jan­uary 6 had threat­ened to can­cel the telco’s air­waves and li­cences, if Kr­ish­nan and Marshall did not to ap­pear be­fore a trial court within two weeks to an­swer for the charges. The two have still not ap­peared be­fore the court.

“Now that the main case has fal­l­en­through,wewil­l­file­for­re­liefto­mor­row,” one of the lawyers rep­re­sent­ing Air­cel said on Thurs­day. Maxis owns 74% of Air­cel’s eq­uity. The case against the Marans, which was an off­shoot of the broader 2G spec­trum al­lo­ca­tion scam that led to 122 li­cences be­ing can­celled in 2012, fell through with Spe­cial CBI Judge OP Saini re­ject­ing the fram­ing of charges against the Marans and two com­pa­nies — Sun Di­rect TV and South Asia En­ter­tain­ment Hold­ings Ltd.

“I am sat­is­fied that the en­tire ca- se is based on the mis­read­ing of the of­fi­cial files, con­tra­dic­tory state­ments of the wit­nesses as well as spec­u­la­tions and sur­mises of C Si­vasankaran,” Saini said in his or­der. “I have no hes­i­ta­tion in record­ing no prima fa­cie case war­rant­ing fram­ing of charge against any of the ac­cused is made out. Ac­cord­ingly, all ac­cused stand dis­charged,” the judge said.

The ac­quit­tal cameasabi­gre­lief for the Maran broth­ers, but dealt a blow to the Cen­tral Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (CBI) and the En­force­ment Direc­torate (ED) that have been prob­ing the case for sev­eral years.

Sources said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion au­thor­i­ties are likely to chal­lenge the or­der in higher courts.

“We are await­ing the copy of the judg­ment. An ap­pro­pri­ate deci- Dayanidhi Maran had ob­tained ‘il­le­gal grat­i­fi­ca­tion’ of

through Sun Di­rect TV from Mau­ri­tius-based firms, as part of quid pro quo in Air­cel-Maxis deal

Or­der ex­cludes Maxis pro­moter T Ananda Kr­ish­nan & for­mer co di­rec­tor Augustus Ralph Marshall, who have been asked to ap­pear in trial court 742.58 crore

sion will be taken only af­ter pe­rus­ing the rul­ing,” a CBI spokesman told ET.

Dayanidhi Maran said he felt vin­di­cated. “When I re­signed, I vowed I will prove my in­no­cence. It was a po­lit­i­cally-mo­ti­vated case with ab­so­lutely no base,” he told ET.

“For six years, me and my fam­ily suf­fered an or­deal,” Maran said. “But, I have never suf­fered as a politi­cian.” Si­vasankaran ac­cepted the court’s rul­ing and said he will move on. “In In­dian courts, when some­one puts pres­sure on you and forces you, it’s dif­fi­cult to prove. I ap­pre­ci­ate the in­ves­tiga­tive agen­cies. I will fo­cus on my other busi­nesses,” he said. Ab­hishek Manu Singhvi, who ar­gued for Dayanidhi Maran’s dis­charge, said there was no ev­i­dence against his client in the first place, and de­scribed Si­vasankaran as “mo­ti­vated”.

The case against Kr­ish­nan and Marshall will con­tinue, but lawyers aware of the case de­vel­op­ments said since key ac­cused Dayanidhi Maran has been ac­quit­ted, the re­main­ing ac­cused may also get re­lief.

CBI files charge sheet against Maran bros, Ralph Marshall, T Ananda Kr­ish­nan, and their com­pa­nies

Chargesheet based on al­leged of­fences pun­ish­able un­der sec­tion 120-B in IPC & un­der the Preven­tion of Cor­rup­tion Act ED claims that

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