Former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran, and his brother founder of Sun TV Network Kalanithi Maran have moved the Madras High Court challenging the charges framed against them by a special CBI court in the alleged illegal telephone exchange case. The Maran brothers have sought a stay on all proceedings before the special court in the case.
The move comes just over two weeks after a special CBI court in Chennai framed charges against Dayanidhi Maran, Kalanithi Maran and five others, including former BSNL General Manager K Brahmanandam, former Deputy General Manager MP Velusamy, Dayanidhi Maranâ€™s Private Secretary Gauthaman, and Sun TV employees Kannan and Ravi.
Judge R Vasanthi had on January 30 framed charges against all seven accused under IPC sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating), and the Prevention of Corruption Act. At the time, Dayanidhi Maran had called the case â€śpolitically motivatedâ€ť and had denied all the charges, while his brother Kalanithi claimed he was made a â€śscapegoatâ€ť and that he was â€śunnecessarily being included in the caseâ€ť.
The illegal telephone exchange case dates back to when Dayanidhi Maran was Telecom Minister in the UPA-I government between 2004 and 2007. He has been accused of misusing his office by allegedly installing a private telephone exchange at his Boat Club and Gopalapuram residences in Chennai between 2004 and 2006. The CBI has alleged that Dayanidhi installed 764 high-speed telecommunication lines at his residence to facilitate the illegal uplink of Sun TV data. Dayanidhi has, however, claimed that the telephone lines were used only for official purposes, in his capacity as Telecom Minister. The agency has alleged that no bills were raised during the period by BSNL and the illegal telephone exchange cost the exchequer a loss of Rs 1.78 crore.
While a special CBI court in Chennai had in March 2018 discharged the Marans and the other accused citing lack of evidence, the Madras High Court set aside the order in July last year. The case was then sent back to the Special CBI court, the Marans went to the Supreme Court to challenge the High Court order. However, the apex court ordered them to face trial in the case.