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Charges framed against Maran brothers in telephone exchange case


Press Trust of India Chennai
A special CBI court here Wednesday framed charges against former communications minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and five others in the alleged illegal telephone exchange case.
Judge R Vasanthi of the Additional Sessions Court for the CBI read out the charges against each accused, who were present in the court, individually.
The charges were framed under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating), and the Prevention of Corruption Act.
All the accused individually denied the charges against them.
The judge then posted the case to February 19, when the trial would begin with the examination of the witnesses.
On March 14 last year, the CBI court had discharged all the accused, holding there was no prima facie case against them.
But the Madras High Court on July 25 quashed the order, holding there was 'heaps' of materials against the Maran brothers and other accused to proceed.
The high court order was challenged by Dayanidhi Maran, grandnephew of late DMK president M Karunanidhi, in the Supreme Court which upheld it and directed him to face trial in the special court, following which the charges were framed.
According to the CBI, Dayanidhi Maran misused his official position as the then minister for communications and information technology in the UPA 1 government and got private telephone exchanges installed at his residences here which were used for business transactions of the Sun Network, owned by his brother Kalanithi Maran.
It has claimed that over 700 high-speed telecommunication lines were installed for which bills were not raised by the BSNL, causing the exchequer a loss of Rs 1.78 crore.
Besides the Maran brothers, the other accused are former BSNL general manager K Brahmanathan, former deputy general manager M P Velusamy, Dayanidhi Maran's private secretary Gauthaman and some Sun TV officials.
Replying to the charges read by the judge against him, Dayanidhi Maran, third accused in the case, submitted that all Union ministers were entitled to get required telephone connections and he had utilised the connections provided to him for official purposes only.
There was no documentary evidence to show that the telephone connections were used for the SUN TV, Dayanidhi Maran said.
He alleged that it was a foisted case and registered for political gains.
"There is no evidence to prove that the connections were given illegally and in violation of law," he said.
"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.
The former DMK MP said he had contested two elections after the case was registered and nothing had come from the Telecommunications Department that he owed dues to it.
He further submitted that officers from the low level to the highest level had signed papers for giving these connections and asked how the allegation of corruption or illegality can be made against him.
The former minister also said the expenditure for the connections had been shown as Rs 6.37 lakh and Rs 2.10 lakh for each of his two residences, respectively and as a minister he was entitled to Rs 9 lakh.
Kalanithi Maran, the seventh accused in the case, while denying the charges submitted he was running the TV media business from 1996 and never used the influence of his brother for the development of his group.
Though the CBI had listed 120 witnesses, none of them had deposed against him, not even mentioned his name, he claimed.
Besides, nowhere in the charge sheet his name was mentioned and in the last hour hurriedly and wrongly he had been arraigned as an accuse by foisting charges against him, the media baron alleged.
There was no prima facie case against him and the charge sheet filed by the CBI was based on assumptions, he claimed.
The two senior BSNL officials denied the charges against them and said they only implemented the orders received from the Ministry of Telecommunications.
The telephone connections were given in a transparent manner, they claimed, adding that the cheating and conspiracy charges were without any proof and evidence.
All the other accused also denied charges framed against them.

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First Published: Jan 30 2019 | 9:55 PM IST

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