BSNL illegal telephone exchange case: Maran brothers, five others discharged by special CBI court; vindicated says Dayanidhi
The CBI had alleged a loss of Rs 1.78 crore to the government due to the installation of alleged an illegal telephone exchange at Dayanidhi Maran's house which was used for Sun TV operations.
CHENNAI: Holding that no prima facie case has been made out to frame charges against former Union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother and Sun TV Group chairman Kalanidhi Maran and others, a special judge for CBI cases in Chennai on Wednesday discharged all the accused from the illegal telephone exchange case.
Allowing a batch of petitions from the accused, the XIV Additional Judge for CBI cases S Natarajan ordered their discharge.
In the case against Dayanidhi Maran, the court held that CBI has not offered any proper reply as to why the CD containing call records of the alleged phone connections at his residence was not produced before the court. No evidence was produced regarding phone connections.
“This court comes to the conclusion that the prosecution has not produced sufficient material to establish the allegations against Dayanidhi Maran that he got more phone connections with mala fide intention to use the same for Sun TV, the judge said.
As regards Kalanidhi Maran, the court pointed out that he has not been made as an accused in the FIR. No evidence has been adduced to show that Kalanidhi, as chairman of Sun TV, is vicariously liable for the alleged offences. Prosecution against him is not maintainable. “It is the view of the court that without the Sun TV being made as an accused in the case, the prosecution against the other accused, the employees of the TV channel, also not maintainable,” the judge added.
“It is decided that there is no sufficient material to frame the charges against any of the accused,” the judge said and allowed all the discharge petitions. The CBI will appeal against the release in High Court.
The Supreme Court order came on a plea by Perarivalan’s who was accused of supplying two 9-volt batteries used in the explosive device that killed Gandhi at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu on May 21, 1991. The court had upheld the conviction of Perarivalan and six others on May 11, 1998, and their review plea was dismissed on October 8, 1999.
Perarivalan spent 14 years in solitary confinement after being sentenced to hang. His death sentence was changed to life term by the Supreme Court in 2014. He had approached the apex court after Superintendent of Police V Thiyagarajan, who had recorded his confessional statement under TADA, said in an affidavit that CBI suppressed a part of Perarivalan’s statement that he was not aware of the conspiracy and the purpose for which the two 9-volt batteries supplied by him would be used.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre told the bench that Perarivalan’s plea ought to be dismissed as the issue was raised after a gap of 17 years and also because it was devoid of both merit and law.
“His role was not limited to procuring nine-volt batteries alone, which were allegedly used in the explosive device that had killed Gandhi. He had even visited Jaffna in Sri Lanka in the first week of June 1990, besides attending a public meeting along with other conspirators,” Anand added.
Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for Perarivalan, said, “Perarivalan was just a 19-year-old when the incident had taken place and had no knowledge of what he was doing.”
But the bench looked dissatisfied with the arguments and said, “When we look into the entire facts and circumstances, we find that he (Perarivalan) was an engineer in electronics, knew the purpose for which batteries were used, was part of a conspiracy to attack Vellore Fort, had common hatred towards one person and had openly accepted that he was a member of LTTE. Was all this not sufficient for the court to arrive at a conclusion?”