Former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran on Thursday refuted before a special court CBI’s claim that he had pressurised a Chennai-based telecom promoter to sell his stakes in Aircel to a Malaysian firm Maxis Group in 2006. While arguing on framing of charges against him in the Aircel-Maxis case, the former union minister claimed that during the time period in which the alleged crime was committed, as claimed by the CBI, Chennai-based businessman C Sivasankaran was in talks with several other companies to sell his stakes in Aircel.
“There is no reason why I would try to facilitate a business transaction, which may even attract criminal charge, which was not even embryonic at that time.
“Allegations against me are that I am trying to help in Aircel and Maxis business. Am I facilitating a deal which was non-existent,” the ex-minister’s counsel argued before Special Judge O P Saini.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on behalf of Dayanidhi, said there were initial talks in 2004 with regard to this business. “Then Aircel tried to do business with several other companies and it was only in October 2005, the business transaction between Aircel and Maxis was finalised,” the counsel said.
CBI has claimed that Dayanidhi pressurised Sivasankaran to sell his stakes in Aircel and two subsidiary firms to Maxis Group.
The agency had also claimed that the politician had forced Sivasankaran to sell his three companies to Malaysia’s Maxis Communication Berhad, also an accused in the case.
The arguments on the point of framing charges remained inconclusive.
The court had earlier held it had the jurisdiction to try the matter against Dayanidhi Maran, Kalanithi Maran and others as the Aircel- Maxis deal “fairly and squarely falls within the description of 2G scam”.
The court’s order on jurisdiction issue had come as it dismissed the pleas of the Maran brothers and other accused challenging jurisdiction of the special 2G court to try two cases filed by CBI and Enforcement Directorate in the Aircel- Maxis deal, claiming that these matters did not directly or indirectly fall into the category of 2G spectrum cases.
CBI had filed charge sheet against the Maran brothers, Ralph Marshall, T Ananda Krishnan, M/s Sun Direct TV (P) Ltd, M/s Astro All Asia Networks Plc, UK, M/s Maxis Communications Berhad, Malaysia, and M/s South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd, Malaysia and then Additional Secretary(Telecommunication) late Dr J S Sarma.
They were chargesheeted for the offences punishable under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
All the accused persons have also moved bail pleas which are pending before the court.
The court had on September 24, issued open warrants of arrest against Krishnan and Marshall on CBI’s plea stating that summons issued to them could not be served.
The court 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 Berhad, saying their appearance may take a long time which may lead to a delay in the proceedings.
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