In a setback to former Union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed his appeal against the Madras High Court’s verdict in the ‘illegal’ BSNL telephone exchange case.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, T Banumathi and Navin Sinha told Maran to “…go and face trial”. Besides Dayanidhi, his elder brother Kalanithi of the Sun TV Group, and five other accused will also face the trial in the matter.
Dayanidhi had challenged in the apex court the Madras High Court’s July 25 order setting aside his discharge in the case. A CBI court had in March last year discharged the Maran brothers from the decade-old telephone exchange scam case, following which the CBI had challenged the order in the Madras High Court.
On July 25, the High Court rejected the objections raised by the brothers against the CBI appeal.
The court said there was sufficient material to prosecute all the seven accused in the case. It directed a lower court to proceed with framing of charges against the Maran brothers and complete the trial within 12 months.
The CBI case against Dayanidhi pertains to alleged misuse of his office to install private telephone exchanges in his two houses in Chennai — one in Gopalapuram and the other in Boat Club. Dayanidhi was the then minister for communications and information technology in the UPA-1 government. It was alleged that he used the facility to benefit Kalanithi’s Sun TV Network between June 2004 and December 2006.
The Maran brothers was charged with causing a loss of Rs 1.78 crore to the exchequer by using 700 telecom lines so installed.
According to the CBI, the billing addresses of these connections were offices of chief general managers, BSNL and Chennai telephones.
The agency also accused Maran of obtaining 19 prepaid mobile SIM cards for Sun TV staff without payment of due charges to BSNL.
After the FIR was lodged in 2013, there were no efforts by the CBI to arrest Maran brothers until mid-2015.