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India

Maran brothers discharged in ‘illegal telephone exchange’ case

CHENNAI: Belying the hype surrounding the decade-old ‘illegal telephone exchange’ case against former Union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his elder brother Kalanithi Maran, a special court for CBI cases here discharged the brothers saying the investigating agency had failed to maintain charges against them.
Special judge Natarajan said the CBI could not produce sufficient material to establish the allegations against Dayanidhi that he got the alleged phone connections with malafide intention to use them for Sun TV. He said the CBI had also not offered a proper reply as to why the CD containing call records of the alleged phone connections was not furnished to the court.

The special judge also discharged five other accused, including former officials of BSNL K Brahmnathan and M P Velusamy, noting that there was no prima facie evidence to prove the charges levelled against them.



As for Kalanithi Maran, the judge said the Sun Network boss could not be made vicariously liable for the alleged offences for the only reason that he was chairperson of the company. “CBI has not arrayed Sun TV. They have not produced any evidence to show that the charges against Kalanithi are maintainable. Therefore, it is the view of the court that the charges against Kalanithi are not maintainable.”

The charge against the Marans and others was that during the check period of June 2004 to December 2006, when he was Union minister for communications and information technology, Dayanidhi Maran had been provided 764 telephone lines and high-speed data lines, and that they were misused for Sun TV’s commercial purposes. It was CBI’s charge that a loss of Rs 1.78 crore had been caused to the exchequer.

Acceding to Marans’ submissions that the charges had been foisted by the agency due to lack of basic technical understanding by the CBI officials, the special judge said since Sun TV had not been made an accused by the CBI, the charges against the two employees of the channel — Kannan, chief technical officer and Ravi, electrician — are also not maintainable. The judge held that there was no sufficient material to frame charges against any of the accused. He then allowed the discharge applications and discharged all of them from the case.

Last October, when the court was about to frame charges against the Maran brothers and the five other accused, they moved discharge petitions seeking to relieve them from the case. The CBI opposed the discharge pleas contending that the agency has filed chargesheet against the Maran brothers and other accused only after thorough investigation, and that all the charges framed against them were supported with material and documentary evidence.
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