Aircel-Maxis case: clean chit for Marans

Enforcement Directorate had told court that the former telecom minister had obtained illegal gratification of Rs 742.58 crore and parked it in Kalanithi's firms, including Sun Direct

Published: 02nd February 2017 04:49 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd February 2017 03:52 AM   |  A+A-

Former Union Telecom and IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran. | PTI File Photo

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: A special 2G court on Thursday discharged all accused in the Aircel Maxis deal case including former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and observed that no prima facie case is made out against any of the accused. The court discharged Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran, Kalanithi’s wife Kavery, South Asia FM Ltd Managing Director K. Shanmugam and three companies in two different cases.

“I am satisfied that the entire case is based on the misreading of the official files, contradictory statements of the witnesses as well as speculations and surmises of C. Sivasankaran. I have no hesitation in recording no prima facie case warranting framing of charge against any of the accused is made out,” the court said. Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate said that it would appeal against the special court’s order.

The order to discharge all the accused, including former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran, in the Aircel-Maxis deal case was delivered during a trial into different cases registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Maran brothers and company SDTPL were accused in both cases.
Thursday’s order would not have any effect on the two accused Malaysian nationals – Ralph Marshall and T Ananda Krishnan – as the court has already segregated the trial against them from that of Maran brothers and others.
The Supreme Court too is expected to hear the matter on Friday. Meanwhile, ED officials are gearing up to appeal against the verdict in a higher court (Supreme Court).

The court in its order also praised Nripendra Mishra (now Principal Secretary to PM) for performing his duties with due diligence. “It is strange that an additional secretary to government of India is so scared of his Secretary that he readily agrees to do an illegal act. When Secretary Nripendra Mishra himself was forthright in expressing his views, what prevented these senior officers from recording their own.”
“Secretary Nripendra Mishra, who performed his duties with due diligence and confidence, never shied away from recording his views on file. The transfer of shares of Aircel Cellular Limited to Aircel Digilink India Limited was being recommended by lower level officers in violation of competition clause in the agreement. Nripendra Mishra asked for legal opinion and did not hesitate in expressing his views and that too in writing,” the court noted. ED has charge-sheeted the Maran brothers, Kavery, Shanmugam and companies SDTPL and SAFL as accused in the case while CBI has booked the brothers, company SDTPL and the South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd in its case.

The CBI had alleged that Dayanidhi Maran, as Minister in the UPA-I government, used his influence to help Malaysian businessman T A Ananda Krishnan buy Aircel by coercing its owner Sivasankaran to part with his stake. Sivasankaran alleged that Maran favoured the Maxis Group in the takeover of his company.  The ED has filed its chargesheet on January 8, 2016 alleging that `742.58 crore was paid as illegal gratification to Dayanidhi Maran by Mauritius-based companies. The money was paid in two companies namely SDTPL and SAFL, controlled by Kalanithi Maran.

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