CHENNAI: Accusing former Union Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran of deliberately suppressing information in the multi-crore illegal BSNL Telephone Exchange scandal to save himself and others, the CBI on Thursday moved the Madras High Court to cancel his anticipatory bail so that he can be taken into custody for interrogation.
“The accused (Maran), despite sustained examination during his presence before the Investigation Officer, did not intentionally furnish any relevant information, which are in his exclusive knowledge, was evasive, giving contradictory replies and was deliberately hiding the facts to save himself and others,” CBI Deputy Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar said in his petition. Justice R Subbiah had on June 30 granted six weeks anticipatory bail to Maran after the CBI summoned him to New Delhi for questioning in connection with the setting up of an illegal telephone exchange at his houses in Chennai when he was Telecom Minister in UPA-I Government.
The CBI officer said that though Maran was examined thoroughly from July 1 to 3, he retracted from his earlier version and gave many evasive answers to the questions put before him. “He was also asked to provide some information, which was also not complete and did not match with the statement given by him during his examination and is not cooperating with the investigation. I submit that in the nature of the case, the CBI is of the opinion that custodial interrogation of Maran is required,” the officer said.
S Gurumurthy's recent article on the case
Explaining the seriousness of the crime that Maran was accused of committing, Kumar in his affidavit said, as a Member of Parliament, the former was entitled to only three telephone connections (one for his constituency, one for Delhi residence and one broadband connection) and two mobile connections, subject to an annual cumulative consumption of 1,50,000 calls.
Whereas, Maran in collusion with the then BSNL Chennai Telephones Chief General Manager K Brahmadathan, illegally obtained 364 actual telephone numbers/lines consisting therein high end connections at his Gopalapuram residence in Chennai under service category. No bills were raised and no payments were made to BSNL towards these connections. “To bring these connections under Service Category, the hirer/billing address was provided as the office of the CGM, BSNL Chennai Telephones. Maran also illegally obtained 19 pre-paid mobile SIM cards (including 10 vanity number SIM cards) under Service Category. These SIM cards were used by the Sun TV staff without payments to BSNL,” the officer said.
Besides, in December 2006 when Maran shifted his residence to Boat Club Road, a proposal to shift the existing facilities to the new bungalow was mooted in collusion with the new BSNL CGM M P Velusamy. During this shifting process, the accused illegally obtained another 363 high end connections under service category. “It is pertinent to mention here that the previous connections were not disconnected,” he pointed out.
“Maran had also obtained 13 connections at his New Delhi residence from MTNL, New Delhi including ISDN connections under service category. Besides, one 8+8 MBPS leased line was also obtained illegally under service category. It is pertinent to note that MTNL never took the approval of the Department of Telecommunications for the ISDN and leased line circuits, which clearly established that the ISDN connections and lease line circuits cannot be provided to anybody including the Minister under the service category,” the affidavit said. While the CBI said that an estimated loss amounting to Rs 1,78,71,391 was arrived at as the wrongful loss caused to the exchequer, this figure was only towards installation charges as no meters were fixed. “The total loss incurred could not be immediately quantified and is being investigated,” the affidavit said, thereby indirectly endorsing Express reports which put the probable loss at several hundred crores.