In a setback to the DMK, the Madras High Court on Wednesday rejected a plea filed by the Maran brothers seeking that the charges that were framed against them by a trial court in the illegal telephone exchange case be quashed. The High Court bench of Justice N Anand Venkatesh asked the special CBI court to complete the trial in the case in four months.
The charges were framed against Dayanidhi Maran, who has been chosen as the DMK’s candidate from Chennai central, and his brother Kalanidhi, by the trial court on January 30 under IPC sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating), and the Prevention of Corruption Act. Charges were also framed against five others – former BSNL General Manager K Brahmanandam, former Deputy General Manager MP Velusamy, Dayanidhi Maran’s Private Secretary Gauthaman and Sun TV employees, Kannan and Ravi.
Dayanidhi Maran has called the case “politically motivated” and has denied all the charges, while his brother Kalanithi claimed he was made a “scapegoat” and that he was “unnecessarily being included in the case.” The two brothers had moved the high court seeking a stay on proceedings in the trial court.
The illegal telephone exchange case dates back to the period from 2004-2007 when Dayanidhi Maran was Telecom Minister in the UPA-I government. 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 maintained 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.