New Delhi: In a surprising turn of events, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Thursday dropped all charges brought by both CBI and the Enforcement Directorate against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and others accused in the Aircel-Maxis case.
“All the accused stand discharged,” said special CBI judge O.P Saini, while pronouncing the order.
The court gave Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi and others a clean chit. It did not find them guilty of the charges made out in the chargesheet.
The Aircel-Maxis case is related to allegations that as telecom minister, Dayanidhi Maran used his influence to coerce Aircel owner, C. Sivasankaran, into parting with his stake in the company to T. Ananda Krishnan-led Maxis Communications Berhad.
This was allegedly done in lieu of investments by the Malaysian company through an arm in Sun Direct TV Pvt. Ltd. Dayanidhi Maran is one of the promoters of Sun Direct and was telecom minister between 2004-07.
The CBI had filed a chargesheet against the Maran brothers, Ralph Marshall, Maxis owner T. Ananda Krishnan, and four companies—Sun Direct TV, Astro All Asia Networks Plc, Maxis Communications Berhad, and South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd, Malaysia. Marshall was the CEO of Astro All Asia Networks.
They were chargesheeted for offences punishable under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
It was alleged by Sivasankaran that Dayanidhi Maran favoured the Maxis Group in the takeover of his company. In return, he alleged, the company made investments through Astro in South Asia FM Ltd (SAFL), a company stated to be owned by the Maran family.
In a separate money laundering case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) chargesheeted the Maran brothers, Kalanithi’s wife Kavery, managing director of SAFL K. Shanmugam, SAFL and Sun Direct TV under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).
The ED alleged that the two firms, SAFL and Sun Direct TV, received Rs742.58 crore as proceeds of crime from Mauritius-based firms and that the two firms were then allegedly controlled by Kalanithi Maran.