Officials said the agency believes that its probe in the money laundering charges was independent of the CBI’s FIR and enquiry.
New Delhi: In a huge relief to former Union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his industrialist brother Kalanithi Maran, a Delhi court on Thursday discharged them in the Aircel-Maxis deal cases lodged by the CBI and the ED. The court discharged two companies — Sun Direct TV (P) Ltd (SDTPL) and South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd.
The ED has decided to go for an appeal against the order. Officials said the agency believes that its probe in the money laundering charges was independent of the CBI’s FIR and enquiry.
It is understood that the ED, in its appeal, will place before the higher court certain amendments made in the Prevention of Money laundering Act (PMLA), which allows for independent investigation by it in cases where the “predicate or scheduled offence”, as in this case of the CBI, has been dismissed.
Thursday’s order would not have any effect on the two accused Malaysian nationals — Ralph Marshall and T. Ananda Krishnan — because the court has already segregated the trial against them from that of Maran brothers and others. The order was passed by special CBI judge O.P. Saini who is exclusively dealing with the 2G spectrum allocation scam cases and those arising out of the investigation.
The CBI had filed a chargesheet against the Maran brothers, Ralph Marshall, T. Ananda Krishnan, Sun Direct TV (P) Ltd, Astro All Asia Networks, UK, Maxis Communications Berhad, Malaysia, South Asia Entertainment Holdings Ltd, Malaysia, and then additional secretary (telecom) J.S. Sarma who died during the course of the probe.
They were chargesheeted for alleged offences punishable under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. In the money-laundering case, the ED has chargesheeted the Maran brothers, Kalanithi’s wife Kavery, managing director of South Asia FM Ltd (SAFL) K. Shanmugam, and Sun Direct TV Pvt Ltd under provisions of the PMLA.
During arguments on the framing of charges, special public prosecutor Anand Grover had claimed that Dayanidhi had “pressurised” Chennai-based telecom promoter C. Sivasankaran to sell his stakes in Aircel and two subsidiary firms to Malaysian firm Maxis Group in 2006. The charge was refuted by the former telecom minister. All the accused had denied the allegations against them made by the investigating agencies, and had moved bail pleas.
The court had summoned the six accused after taking cognisance of the ED’s chargesheet, saying there was “enough incriminating material” to proceed against them.
While arguing on the issue of framing of charges against him, Dayanidhi had claimed that during the time period in which the alleged crime was committed, as claimed by the CBI, Sivasankaran was in talks with several companies to sell his stakes in Aircel.
It was only in October 2005 that the business transaction between Aircel and Maxis was finalised, his counsel had said. His brother Kalanithi had also argued that the CBI’s claim was false, and the complainant was himself eager for the business, and that he was being implicated in the case.
The court had on September 24, 2016 issued open warrants of arrest against Krishnan and Marshall on the CBI’s plea stating that summons issued to them could not be served.