A CBI special court on Wednesday framed charges against all the seven accused in the BSNL illegal telephone exchange case, including former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother and MD of Sun Group Kalanidhi Maran.
According to reports, Judge R Vasanthi of the Special Court for the CBI read out the charges against each accused present in the court. The charges were framed under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating), and relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The special court judge is set to hear the case on February 19 and the trial will begin with the examination of the various witnesses.
The Supreme Court had earlier 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. Initially, the CBI trial court in March had discharged the accused, as the CBI and the prosecutors had failed to prove the case against them.
However, the Madras High Court had set aside the CBI court’s order to discharge them from the telephone exchange case as the CBI had argued that there is enough material in the case, which was adequate enough to frame charges against the accused.
Reacting to the charges, accused Dayanidhi Maran submitted that as a Union minister, he was entitled to get required telephone connections and had utilised the connections provided to him for official purposes only. He further added that there was no documentary evidence to show that the telephone connections were used for SUN TV.
Asserting that the case is foisted and registered for political gains, Maran said, “There is no evidence to prove that the connections were given illegally and in violation of the law. I am again and again submitting that the telephone connections were utilised only for the official purpose of mine as a Minister and the Secretary, Telecommunications never furnished any document stating that I am not eligible to get the BSNL connections,” he told the judge.
Kalanithi Maran, the seventh accused in the case, denied the charges, said he was running the TV media business from 1996 and never used the influence of his brother for the development of his group.
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.