The Madras High Court Tuesday disposed of a petition challenging a special CBI court order fixing Wednesday for framing of charges in a case of setting up of “illegal” telephone exchanges by former communications minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others.
Justice Anand Venkatesh rejected the contention of three of the accused and made it clear that at the time of framing charges, the trial court only needs to give the available material to the accused persons and there was no requirement to hear the counsel on the sufficiency of the materials.
He was disposing of the petition filed by Vedagiri Gowthaman, Dayanidhi Maran’s private secretary, S Kannan, and K S Ravi, who are among the seven accused, seeking to quash Monday’s order of Additional Judge for CBI cases fixing Wednesday for framing charges.
“There is no such procedure contemplated under Sections 239 and 240 of CrPC that the trial court has to hear the counsel on the sufficiency of the materials for framing charges,” Justice Venkatesh said.
The petitioners sought a direction to the CBI judge to hear all the parties on framing of charges and look into the availability or otherwise of materials on record as against each accused.
Senior counsels for the petitioners submitted that trial court was proceeding to frame charges based on the assumption that the materials were already available on record and the prosecution has given draft charges.
In view of the specific clarification given by the Supreme Court, the trial court cannot proceed to frame the charges based on assumptions and the trial court has to necessarily look into the materials that have already been collected by the prosecution, they claimed.
Rejecting the contentions, the judge said the apex court had given a clear direction to the trial court as to the manner in which the charges will have to be framed.
Therefore except for reiterating the order passed by the Supreme Court, there was nothing new that can be added by this court, Justice Venkatesh said.
The case relates to the UPA 1 government period when Dayanidhi, a grandnephew of late DMK chief M Karunanidhi, was the minister for communications and information technology.
The CBI has alleged he misused his official position and got private telephone exchanges installed at his residences here which were used for business transactions of the Sun Network, owned by his brother Kalanithi Maran.
On March 14 last year, the CBI court here discharged all the accused, holding there was no prima facie case against them.
But, the Madras High Court on July 25 last quashed the order, holding there was ‘heaps’ of materials against the Maran brothers and other accused to proceed.
The high court order was challenged by Dayanidhi in the Supreme Court which upheld it and directed him to face trial in the special court.
According to the CBI, over 700 high-end telecommunication lines were installed at the Maran’s residences in Boat Club and Gopalapuram areas of the city for which bills were not raised, causing the exchequer a loss of Rs 1.78 crore during 2004-06.