The Central Bureau of Investigation has told Supreme Court that it is investigating textiles minister Dayanidhi Maran in the 2G scam, making his position in the Manmohan Singh government virtually untenable.
He is being investigated for his role as telecom minister in 2004. There was no official word from either the government or Maran on these developments till late evening.Maran has been charged with the "forced transfer" of ownership of a Chennai-based company (Aircel) to a Malaysian firm (Maxis) owned by his business associate to enable Maxis to be eligible for highly valued spectrum licences.
He has been charged with taking "illegal gratification" for granting Aircel spectrum licences after it was taken over by Maxis. Already isolated by his party, the DMK, Maran was immediately targeted by rival and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
"It is high time that the PM dropped him from the council of ministers," she said.
Elaborating on the "illegal gratification", the CBI told court that the Maxis group had allegedly invested in Sun Direct, owned by Maran's brother Kalanidhi Maran in return for landing the sale of Aircel and the 2G licences.
It bought 20% stake in the company at the cost of Rs 675 crore, taking its value to more than Rs 3,300 crore.
CBI counsel KK Venugopal added that the probe would move further once C Sivasankaran, the man "forced" to sell Aircel to Maxis, deposes before the CBI on July 13.
"He would shed light on the conspiracy," the senior counsel said.
Reading out some parts of the status report, the advocate disclosed the timeline of when and how Aircel got the license.
According to CBI, the Chennai-based company had applied to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) in March 2004.
A month later, Maran took over as the telecom minister.
Despite several reminders, no action was taken on the company's application for spectrum licences. The permissions came only when Aircel sold its stake to Maxis.
"There was a clear attempt to block the issue of license. The gentleman (promoter of Aircel) had been knocking at various doors but was left with no choice but to sell his shares to a Malaysian firm," Venugopal said.
During the hearing Venugopal told the court that the CBI had already registered a preliminary enquiry into the spectrum allocation made during the period of 2001 to 2008.
However, the CBI would not be able to file its third chargesheet in the case before August 31.
The probe focuses on the 'association' of Loop Telecom and Essar. Loop Telecom was one of the companies to have got the 2G spectrum license during the tenure of A Raja.