KUALA LUMPUR – A special court in India has dropped all charges against the country’s former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother and others in the Aircel-Maxis deal cases lodged by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), The Times of India reported.
Special Judge O.P. Saini discharged Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran, Kalanithi’s wife Kavery Kalanithi, South Asia FM Ltd (SAFL) managing director K. Shanmugam and two companies — SAFL and Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd (SDTPL) in two different cases.
The court was hearing two different matters related to Aircel-Maxis deal.
The CBI had alleged that Dayanidhi Maran, as a minister, used his influence to help Malaysian businessman T. Ananda Krishnan buy Aircel by coercing its owner Sivasankaran to part with his stake.
All the accused had denied the allegations against them made by the investigating agencies and had moved bail pleas.
During arguments on framing of charges, Special Public Prosecutor Anand Grover had claimed that Dayanidhi had “pressurised” Chennai-based telecom promoter C. Sivasankaran to sell his stakes in Aircel and two subsidiary firms to Malaysian firm Maxis Group in 2006.
The charge was strongly refuted by Dayanidhi.
In the money laundering case, ED has chargesheeted the Maran brothers, Kavery, Shanmugam, SAFL and Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd (SDTPL) under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The court had summoned the six accused after taking cognisance of the ED’s charge sheet, saying there was “enough incriminating material” to proceed against them.
While arguing on the issue of framing of charges against him, Dayanidhi had claimed that during the time period in which the alleged crime was committed, as claimed by CBI, Sivasankaran was in talks with several companies to sell his stakes in Aircel.
It was only in October 2005, that the business transaction between Aircel and Maxis was finalised, his counsel had said.
His brother Kalanithi had also argued that CBI’s claim was false and the complainant was himself eager for the business and that he was being falsely implicated in the case.
The court had on Sept 24, 2016, issued open warrants of arrest against Krishnan and Marshall on CBI’s plea stating that summons issued to them could not be served.
It had also ordered that the trial against Maran brothers and two accused companies be segregated from that of those based in Malaysia — Krishnan, Marshall, and two firms, Astro All Asia Network PLC and Maxis Communication Bhd, saying their appearance may take a long time which may lead to a delay in the proceedings.