NEW DELHI: Former Union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran was questioned for nearly six hours on Monday at the Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) Headquarters here for his involvement in the scam involving over 764 phone lines, including 323 high data capacity and mobiles connections to his residences in Chennai and Delhi.
“The former minister appeared before the agency around 11 am and was questioned till 5 pm,” said a senior CBI official. He was confronted with the RTI replies of BSNL and MTNL, which he had submitted to the agency in July.
The Special Task Force, probing the case, had asked Maran, who was telecom minister in the first UPA government (2004-07), to provide evidence for his innocence during his six-hour long questioning.
Sources said Maran stuck to his claim that he had only one Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) connection. Sources also said that he was asked about the usage of 764 telecom connections and how he had benefited the Sun TV group, owned by his elder brother Kalanithi.
Maran, through volumes of documents earlier given to the agencies, tried to defend saying that ‘there is no scam in it’. Unconvinced, he has been asked to join the probe again on Tuesday. “Maran was cooperating with agency during questioning,” the CBI official said.
The CBI, which had registered an FIR in the case on July 23, 2013, is probing the scam to dig out the loss to the State exchequer.
The STF team of the CBI, which had registered an FIR in the case on July 23, 2013, again questioned Maran with a new list of over 300 questions.
It was Express that first blew the lid off the multi-crore telephone exchange scam, exposing the illegal high-speed ISDN phone lines that were routed from Dayanidhi’s residence to Kalanithi’s Sun TV to facilitate fast data transfer of news programmes, causing huge losses to the government-owned BSNL.
Noted commentator on economic and political affairs S Gurumurthy broke the story in June 2011, exposing the secret exchange with 323 lines at Dayanidhi’s residence in 2006-07 in the name of chief general manager of BSNL to benefit Sun TV.
The agency later claimed that Dayanidhi actually facilitated and provided nearly 764 high-end telecommunication facilities ISDN, BRA, PRA, broadband connections and leased line circuits and mobile connections at his residence in violation of rules and regulations. The CBI filed a preliminary inquiry in 2011 and registered a case in July 2013.
This year, Dayanidhi was questioned in July. Last year, he was questioned twice in the case.