Union textiles minister Dayanidhi Maran on Monday denied allegations that he had forced telecom firm Aircel's promoter C. Sivasankaran to sell his holdings to Malaysian group Maxis Communications.
In a hurriedly called press meet in Chennai, Maran, who was the communications and IT minister from May 26, 2004, to May 14, 2007, told reporters: "It is more than six-seven year old issue. I have to familiarise with the facts."
"No one can force anyone to sell the business", he said.
Maran said if someone felt that he was being forced to sell his holdings, then he could have gone to court.
Citing news reports, Maran said Aircel was up for sale in 2004 itself and was talking to several suitors.
According to him, Aircel was in the news much before he became the communications minister.
Maran said though the media wants to judge him, he will prove his innocence.
In Delhi, Aircel founder Sivasankaran on Monday told the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that he was forced to sell stake in his company after his applications for telecom licence was rejected in 2006 by Maran, sources said.
Sivasankaran went to the CBI office on his own to meet officials investigating the 2G spectrum allocation from 2001 to 2007, and stated his case.
"We have not yet registered a case," a CBI official said.
However, the CBI recorded his statement.
"He alleged that his applications for licences were rejected when Dayanidhi Maran was the telecom minister in 2006," said a source.
Sivasankaran also alleged that he was forced to sell his stake in Aircel to Malaysia's Maxis Communications, whose owner was reported to be close to Maran and his brother Kalanithi, who owns Sun TV, added the source.
Maran is alleged to have granted 14 licences to Dishnet Wireless, which later became Aircel, during his tenure as telecom minister.
Sivasankaran also said that when Maxis came into the picture, Aircel was awarded licences for seven more telecom circles.