Textiles minister Dayanidhi Maran on Thursday sent a legal notice to The New Indian Express demanding Rs 10 crore damages for publishing a defamatory article alleging he "looted" the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) while communication minister between 2004 and 2007, his lawyer said.
Maran strongly denied the allegation in the article that he set up a BSNL telephone exchange with 323 home lines at his Boat Club residence and connected it to his brother's Sun TV Network.
Contending the allegation is motivated, scandalours, defamatory, baseless and derogatory and the article is published with an aim to defame him, Maran demanded the newspaper to tender an unconditional apology and publish it prominently. He also demanded Rs 10 crore as damages failing which legal action will be initiated.
According to Maran when a similar report was published in Dinamani Tamil daily during in 2009, the BSNL had clarified that only one telephone connection was provided at his residence.
The telephone company had also clarified that from the date of installation till March 2009, Maran had used only 173,698 metered call units as against an eligible 450,000 metered call units.
After the legal notice was issued to Dinamani, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, then the state's leader of opposition made a similar allegation at a public rally. Maran had initiated criminal defamation case against her. Jayalalithaa challenged the same in the Madras high court and the case is pending.