NEW DELHI: Less than a week after the Madras High Court saw error, illegality and perversity in the discharge of former Union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maran, who heads the Sun TV group, in the illegal telephone exchange scam, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to give them any relief in their appeal against facing trial.
The Madras High Court had ordered framing of charges within 12 weeks against the Marans. A special CBI court had in March discharged them and the other accused in the case.
A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, “These are matters to be decided in trial. The High Court had interfered because you were the Telecom minister at the relevant time. You got a PLI line installed at your house. You had 30 baby telephone lines from this PLI line. In turn, these 30 lines had 300 different telephone lines. And these were used for business of your brother (Kalanithi) who ran a TV channel.”
“Were these telephone lines not used by your brother’s channel?” Justice Gogoi asked. There was no denial. He then said, “Go and face the trial.”
Senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for Maran, was told by the bench that these cases are matters of trial and not of discharge. Singhvi tried to persuade the bench to hear his arguments but Justice Gogoi was categorical: “As far as Mr Maran is concerned, it is dismissed and that’s final. Thank you so much everyone.”Justice G Jaichandran of the Madras HC had directed a special CBI court to frame charges and conclude the trial within 12 months.
According to the CBI, the exchequer suffered a loss of `1.78 crore due to an illegal private telephone exchange set up at the house of Dayanidhi Maran.
In all, four senior counsel - Singhvi, Vikas Singh, Shyam Divan and Ranjit Kumar - represented the accused.
When Vikas Singh who was appearing for one of them tried to present his case first, Justice Gogoi asked: “Why do you want to jump the queue?”He then heared Dayanidhi Maran’s case and dismissed it before proceeding to hear and reject the other appeals.