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Maran brothers will be charged in telephone exchange case, rules Madras HC

According to the prosecution, Dayanidhi Maran had misused his office and installed a private telephone exchange at his residences in Chennai during his tenure as Union minister under Congress-led United Progressive Alliance rule between 2004 and 2007.

india Updated: Jul 25, 2018 22:50 IST
CS Kotteswaran
BSNL telephone exchange case,telephone exchange case,Kalanithi Maran
The special CBI court in March discharged Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi and others accused in the case.(HT Photo)

The Madras high court on Wednesday set aside a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court’s March 14 verdict discharging former Union minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader Dayanidhi Maran, his brother, Kalanithi, and five others in an illegal telephone exchange case.

According to the prosecution, Dayanidhi Maran had misused his office and installed a private telephone exchange at his residences in Chennai during his tenure as Union minister under Congress-led United Progressive Alliance rule between 2004 and 2007. The exchange was allegedly used to promote business activities of his family-owned Sun TV.

In March, a CBI court acquitted all seven accused in the case, including Dayanidhi and Kalanithi Maran on grounds that there was no prima facie evidence to prove the charges against them.

“Considering the police report and the documents, the only opinion any judicial mind could form is that, there are grounds to presume all the seven accused have committed an offence and not otherwise,” justice G Jayachandran said.

He allowed the CBI’s appeal in the case and directed the agency to frame charges and complete the trial within a year. “Statements recorded under subsection (3) of section 161 of the criminal procedure code and other documents make out a prima facie case that Dayanidhi Maran, while functioning as a public servant in the capacity of Union minister of communication and information technology from May 2004 to May 2007, entered into criminal conspiracy with KB Brahmadathan and MP Velusamy (then BSNL chief general managers in Chennai).”

Maran had allegedly got 764 telephone connections installed at his Chennai and Delhi residences under service category without being entitled to it, according to CBI charges. He caused a loss of over Rs 1.7 crore to government exchequer and undue gain to Sun TV owner Kalanidhi Maran by violating procedures and norms, according to the prosecution’s case.

Jjudge Jayachandran observed that Dayanidhi Maran’s personal secretary, Vedagiri Gowthaman, and Sun TV staffers KS Ravi and S Kannan were part of the criminal conspiracy and had played “crucial roles” in obtaining and maintaining the illegal telephone connections.

In his 87-page order, Jayachandran said the court was satisfied that plenty of material was available to frame charges against the accused. “None of the reasons given by the trial court to discharge them is sustained in law,’’ he observed. He added the trial court’s order “clearly indicates that the parameters laid down by the apex court had been grossly violated.”

The Marans were unavailable for their comments.

First Published: Jul 25, 2018 13:41 IST