In a setback to former union minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maran, the Madras High Court Friday rejected a plea by them to quash charges framed against them by a CBI court in the illegal BSNL telephone exchange case, according to ANI.
In July, the Supreme Court had dismissed their appeal against the Madras High Court’s verdict saying, “…go and face trial”. Besides Dayanidhi and Kalanithi, five other accused were asked to 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, saying there was sufficient material to prosecute all the seven accused in the case.
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 Marans were charged with causing a loss of Rs 1.78 crore to the exchequer by using 700 telecom lines allegedly installed at Maran’s residences in Chennai city, one at the Boat Club and the other at Gopalapuram. 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, the CBI did not arrest Maran brothers until mid-2015.