A special CBI court in Chennai discharged former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi and his brother and Sun TV Network Chairman, Kalanithi Maran along with five others in the illegal telephone exchange scam on Wednesday.
The Maran brothers and other accused were discharged by the CBI court on the grounds that there was “no prima facie material” against them.
The others, who were discharged in the case, were BSNL's former Chief General Manager K Brahmanathan and former Deputy General Manager M Velusamy, the former minister's Personal Secretary V Gowthaman, and Sun TV network employees S Kannan and KS Ravi.
The CBI had alleged that Dayanidhi Maran misused his office when he was the Union Minister for Communication and Information Technology and installed a private telephone exchange at his residence in Chennai between 2004 to 2006. CBI accused Dayanidhi of installing 764 telephone lines at his residence to facilitate illegal uplink of Sun TV data. This is said to have cost the government exchequer a loss of Rs 1.78 crore.
Reacting to the judgement, RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy, who has been vocal against the Maran brothers said their discharge in the illegal telephone case is a shame on CBI and fraud criminal jurisprudence and that the CBI should appeal against the discharge forthwith.
“The case is not even tried. It is discharge which means even the charge sheet does not disclose offence. Even the NIE article was a better charge sheet than the one CBI filed. The CBI undertstated the loss, limited it to cable laying expenses, leaving 800 lines user charges,” he said on Twitter.
Post the verdict, the shares of Sun TV rose to as much as 5%, closing upwards of 3% at the end of the trading day.
In October 2017, the Maran brothers had moved a petition seeking dismissal of the case, which was strongly opposed by CBI on February 27, stating that they had material evidence to proceed against them.
“Dayanidhi Maran has abused his official position as a Union minister and member of parliament in getting illegal telephone connections to Sun Network owned by his brother Kalanithi Maran. The Maran brothers and other employees of Sun Group have criminally conspired to commit the offences, thereby causing financial loss to the government. There is incriminating evidence to prove their involvement in the crime,” TOI quotes the counsel as saying on February 27.
While seeking their discharge, the Maran brothers told the court that CBI had failed to understand the latest technology and hence pursued the case.
This is the second major legal victory for a DMK leader. In December, former Telecom Minister A Raja and Rajya Sabha MP and daughter of DMK chief Karunanidhi, M Kanimozhi were acquitted by a special CBI court in Delhi in the 2G spectrum case.
(With IANS inputs)