The CBI last week filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court against the discharge of former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others in the Aircel-Maxis case, saying there was “overwhelming evidence” against them. Sources said the decision was taken days before the agency finalised a criminal case against former Union finance minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti. Karti and his associates were raided by the agency on Tuesday in connection with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to INX Media Private Limited.
Agency sources said the CBI’s appeal before the Delhi High Court is likely to come up for hearing next week.
The CBI, based on legal opinion, stated in its appeal that the special CBI court judge O P Saini’s order of discharging the Maran brothers and others at the stage of framing of charges did not hold ground. On February 2 this year, Saini said prima facie no case warranting framing of charges against any of the accused was made out on the basis of materials placed on record.
Agency officials said the prime witness in the case and previous owner of Aircel, C Sivasankaran, is yet to depose before the court and his testimony against the accused persons can be crucial evidence. It was on the complaint of Sivasankaran in 2011 that the CBI filed a case against Maran, the telecom minister in 2006, alleging that Maran had “arm-twisted” him to sell the stake to Maxis.
While challenging the special CBI court order saying that “legally admissible evidence” was “wholly lacking” in the probe, the CBI in its appeal stated that it is a matter of trial whether the charges against Maran and his brother can be sustained and it had “overwhelming evidence”. The agency said the Marans received a bribe of Rs 742 crore for “coercing” Sivasankaran to sell his telecom company Aircel to Malaysia-based Maxis.
The CBI in its chargesheet, filed in 2014, had alleged that the former minister entered into a criminal conspiracy with T Ananda Krishnan, the owner of Maxis, and coerced Sivasankaran, the owner of Aircel, to sell his total shares to the former allegedly in lieu of a bribe which was paid in the form of investments by the foreign company through another company into Sun Direct TV Pvt. Ltd. (SDTPL) and South Asia FM Limited (SAFL), promoted by Kalanithi.
The Enforcement Directorate, which probed money laundering charges in the Aircel-Maxis case, said they have also challenged the special court order discharging the Marans. In the money laundering case, the ED attached properties including shares, movable and immovable assets worth Rs 742.58 crore on the allegation that the money was paid for Dayanidhi by two Mauritius-based companies through Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd and South Asia FM Ltd.