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Maran brothers to face trial in telephone exchange case

The Supreme Court on Friday asked Kalanithi Maran, to face trial in the decade-old illegal BSNL telephone exchange case, along with his brother and former Union Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran.

The Madras High Court while setting aside the trial court order discharging Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others from the case remitted the case back to the special court for CBI cases and directed the court to continue the trial and complete framing of charges within 12 weeks.

A three-judge bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, R Banumathi and Navin Sinha had on July 30 dismissed the appeals filed by Dayanidhi Maran and three others against the High Court order. At that time Kalanithi Maran did not prefer an appeal.

In his appeal, Kalanithi Maran said the high court had allowed the CBI’s appeal without affording an opportunity of hearing the matter on merits. The order was in contravention of the statutory mandate of Section 40 (1) of CrPC and the principles of natural justice.

He pleaded for quashing the high court order. Justice Gogoi told counsel for Kalanithi Maran that the court would not interfere with the high court and that he should face trial. The court dismissed his appeal.

The special CBI court had in March discharged Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi and others accused in the case. The trial court had allowed the petitions filed by the Maran brothers and others seeking their discharge, holding that there was no prima facie case against them.

In 2013, the CBI had accused Dayanidhi of misusing his office and installing a virtual private telephone exchange at his residence in Chennai, which was used for business deals involving elder brother Kalanithi’s enterprise, Sun Network. Maran was Telecom Minister between June 2004 and December 2006.

The agency had alleged that more than 700 high-end leased telecom lines were installed at the Maran residence in Chennai under the service category, against which bills were never raised. CBI had claimed alleged this ‘scam’ caused the exchequer a loss of almost Rs 1.78 crore. The agency filed a charge sheet in the case on December 9, 2016.

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