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Dayanidhi Maran and six others to face trial in BSNL illegal telephone exchange case: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has dismissed the plea of former Union telecom minister Dayanadhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and five others against the Madras High Court order setting aside their discharge in the case. The apex court has ordered them to face trial in connection with the “illegal” telephone exchange case.

The bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice R. Banumathi and Justice Navin Sinha dismissed the appeal made by Maran to challenge the Madras High Court’s decision to set aside the judgement of a CBI court. The CBI court had earlier discharged all the accused from the case.

The CBI had registered a case against the DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran and others for creating losses to the exchequer by utilizing his power as the Union telecom minister from 2004 to 2007. The CBI charge sheet also included Kalanithi Maran, chairman and managing director of Sun TV Network Limited, Brahamadathan, MP Velusamy, who were senior officials of BSNL, Dayanidhi Maran’s private secretary V Vedagiri Gowtham, KS Ravi and S Kannan.

The CBI had alleged that Maran had used his official position to illegally set up a private telephone exchange at his residences in Boat Club and Gopalapuram in Chennai and had unlawfully used it for his business transactions involving Sun Network. Dayanidhi Maran had installed more than 700 high-end PRA/BRA/ISDN/leased telecom lines at his residence under the service category and no bills were raised for the utilization of these resources.

It is estimated that the setting up of this illegal telephone exchange by Maran has caused Rs 1.78 crore to the exchequer. Apart from this, it is also alleged that there were many illegal installations of landlines with ISDN facilities and also additional SIM cards with fancy numbers were blocked for the use of Sun TV and other individuals related to Dayanidhi Maran.

The CBI court in March had discharged the accused, as the CBI and the prosecutors had failed to prove the case against them. The trial court had said that there is no prima facie evidence to prove the charges against them. The CBI had then moved to the Madras High Court against the order of the trial court.

The Madras High Court had recently set aside the CBI court’s order to discharge them from the telephone exchange case. The CBI had argued that there is enough material in the case, which was adequate enough to frame charges against the accused. The Madras High Court had directed the trial court to continue the trial and complete framing of charges within 12 weeks. As a result, now all the seven accused including Maran brothers will face the charges in the CBI trial court.

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