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
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